FTS Betslip Mindset Series Episode 8 – Execute

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FTS Betslip Mindset Series Episode 8 – Execute

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29/09/2023

I want to talk a bit about executing your trades and the risks rewards of doing so.   Everyone goes through a process of finding methods which suit them.  Firstly, by sorting out our expectations and deciding what odds we want to bet at and for many people, automating their bets for set-and-forget and riding that variance is a good way to go, as it can take that emotion out of the bets.  But when we’re trading manually, sitting at a desk, and watching markets, whether a football match, horse race, or car racing, one of the core skills to learn is the proper execution of those trades.   

It sounds simple. I’m quite a rules-based trader, but I think when people come to me and say they want hard and fast rules, they can stick to. Still, they don’t understand the risk-reward or how they plan out because there may be goals before we execute those rules, so they end up winding themselves into a position where that execution suffers because they do not have the mindset and skills for it. Speaking to people on these topics is quite detrimental as they don’t like sitting waiting or whose risk reward becomes too small.   The whole idea of a trading system, whether it be football trading, pre-race trading like Steve Williamson or in-play like Andy, is trying to consistently take money out of the markets over a long period of time.   And as I have said numerous times, there are many ways to do this.  But as well as knowing your staking, knowing what you can win or lose and the odds you may lay at.  The execution of the trades has got to suit you as well, and it’s got to be something that you’re not going to let your bad trades run into being really bad trades, and your good trades be too small to make up for those bad trades.

An example of one of my methods is to lay the scores at half-time and exit for a point. Something I did with Kostas years back, and we did it religiously.  But you’ve got to get out. The key is you’ve got to get out, and one of Kosta’s problems was if we’re having a bad run; typically, these trades win about 55%/45% of the time. So, for every hundred trades, we were winning about 10 points. But we could have 8,10,12 losers on the spin. And with all these things, you know that’s what can happen, and he got into the roulette type of thinking.   So, we would have 6-7 looser he would say the next ones got to come in, and then you leave it to run longer. It then means you’re not losing a point. You lose a point and a half, and your strike rates have to go up.

So, all these things need to come together: you build your system, how long have you built it back from, and what data have you used? You will test it forward to see how that worked out and then put the live money in. How are you going to react to that? Are you going to execute everything as it was built and understand all the ins and outs of doing that.

I did a podcast with Peter Weber, and one of the things he said is, ‘People have got to embrace risk’, but most people who go into this, and a lot of people that I deal with, say ‘they accept the risk’ but what they want is some guaranteed success, something that’s guaranteed to work. Many people like to feel they have some control over that outcome. We’ve talked about that again before being in control. So it goes back to the way I trade is ultimately very boring it’s not super exciting, but people like to think they take the risk and they’ve got the thrill of goals going in or whatever where you just need to actually become a bit more execution focused and understand precisely what it is you’re going to do in that market. 

Again, I have repeatedly spoken about people’s reactions to a red card. Suddenly, they change what they will do because of a red card as if they’ve got some pre-found knowledge of that. Not one person I’ve asked, ‘What difference do red cards make to your system?’ and not one has been able to tell me. They can tell me one anecdotal game or two anecdotal games: oh, he was sent off, and there wasn’t a goal, but that’s one game. How does that plan out over hundreds and hundreds of games?

I think that is one of the things that happens with executing trading systems. People change their execution depending on where they are to get to this guaranteed outcome, so just little tweaks and little manoeuvres, and that’s why a trading plan is so important. You write out, this is what you’re going to do, and that’s it. You can have flexibility in that if you’ve got four or five trades running at the same time, and I wouldn’t suggest you have any more than that, and you’ve got a nice green number across the lot, and it means you can close those trades and walk away with green and not have any more stressing about your day that’s not wrong. 

I saw a debate the other day on the website about how you’ve executed one trade one way and then the next one. Do you take your profit, or do you let it run? My answer is you have got to do what suits you.

If people go to the website and look at the strategy posts when they go up, and you can look at the training videos we have put up, you can see 3 outcomes from a basic back over 2.5 goals.  A goal has gone in,

  1. You can green that trade up for small green,
  2. you can sit on that goal and wait for it to get back to your entry point and then exit
  3. you could remove your liabilities, so you have no more risk

That may vary for you from game to game. My view would be to be consistent initially, starting out trying to be consistent in how you operate by doing what suits you and not what suits me.  I can remove liability after one goal, and there are no more goals, and I don’t get anything. It may not suit somebody who wants to green up and take that little green.  But you must understand your risk-reward situation; I think that’s one of the things that people don’t get. So, whilst I say some of the ways I trade are boring. I try and give people when I talk about trading methods that they can operate that are pretty secure because obviously, I don’t want people coming back to me going, ‘I had a go at that mate, and I’ve done my brains’ whatever we try we try and give the method so over 1.5 goals backed at 20,27,35 mins and  remove reliability on a goal.  This is a really secure method. You know you can only lose a point.  One of my other methods is backing 1.5 first half goals but I might back it late on in the half. I’ll see the match prices at the start or see what numbers I’ve got behind the game, and I might think, well, 2.4 or 2.2, whatever it is pre match I don’t want to enter then; I’m going to see what happens in 20 minutes.  Very rarely do I enter into that pre-match, and I will wait for the game to kick off pretty much every time a goal goes in, so be it; I’ve missed an opportunity.  Again, people don’t want to miss those opportunities, but I may sit there depending on where it is. Then I’m going to give those 20 minutes. Now I’m getting it at 5, 6, 7, and 8, and I might be going again at 35 minutes and get 13 or 14, so my risk reward goes up significantly, and my ability to trade on one goal increases my win potential. When you’re nudging around winning .1 or .2 per trade, and then one goes wrong, you are in a risk-reward situation where you must win 5 bits to cover the losing one.  That’s when trading can feel very stop-start; you have got to get the right balance between the caution of it and not blowing your bank to the risk level that is acceptable to you to the ability to grow it and all that comes with how you execute your trade.  

So, the process, particularly for me with football, is straightforward. You select a game and have criteria you will use for others. They may fancy there will be goals within the game, but for me, it is numbers based. Other people might play it shots on target. That may be what works for them. It’s not for me, but that’s not decrying it. As I say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. We select that game, we then decide how we are going to trade that game, what we are going to do in that game, what moves are we going to make, and then we execute that, and we accept that we are not going to get it right every single time. I think again that one of the nuances with football trading, I can’t speak for the racing guys, is people like to think they know more than they probably do. We all have a view on who are good players and how football will pan out and, who will be who and who will score goals, and they can’t defend, so it’s very difficult to execute that trade.

You know you’ll often get trades that go dead against what you believe.  You will go through your criteria, which produces a game. For instance, as I’m writing this, Crystal Palace are playing Arsenal tonight.  Your system will say back Crystal Palace to score two goals. Your head says, well, they’re playing Arsenal, and they’re not going to score two goals, so you’ve got this constant conflict, which affects your execution. So you’ve got to think about, and again, it’s another area where you can self-mark yourself: am I executing my trading precisely as I wish to? If not, why not, and what is stopping me?  Often, what is stopping people is their mental state, especially if they are getting beaten up on a particular day. My view on that is to do less. I get people who struggle with that, and then they introduce more systems. I think that’s not the answer, is it? The answer is to do one thing and nail it. Again, we talked about accepting that you’ve got no control over the events. All you can do is execute the trades you’ve got, and you will have periods of a football season where goals go in, and everything seems easy. We get far too confident, perhaps at that stage, and you will have periods where it starts going wrong, missed penalties, goals disallowed, VAR, and you think the world is going to end, and that’s when you think, oh, I need to change what I’m going to do. Unfortunately, most people’s change of execution tends to be on far too small a game band. An example of this

I’ve had 8 games, and there has been a late goal in 3 of them. Maybe I should put a back bet into cover late goals.  You are just reacting to something really short. What data have you got to back up that that’s the play to make? Should you go in later in games, only 45% of football matches have a goal after 85 minutes. How do you know you will be on the right end of that? How is it going to pan out long term? It’s that execution, and all this comes down to: What game are you going to go in and why? How are you going to trade this game? What is your risk reward for this trade?

It is essential to know from the outset what is my upside? What can I win? What can I lose? Because then you can work out from the start the strike rates you need, can you hit that strike rate, and you can start to learn the expected value, how many expected winners you will have.  We will have some information on the website with formulas and things people can use as we go forward. What is the trade based on going backwards? Can we make that play forward? And it comes back to that execution and understanding your risk reward, and can the two go hand in hand to achieve that ultimate goal of extracting a long-term profit out of the markets over time? That is all we are trying to do.

We are not trying to do anything else. Again, people get weighed down by far too much trying to win big and win money when we should think about the execution process. Start learning to believe in probability. If you start turning things into percentages in your head, the game becomes a lot easier. Suppose you know what percentage of games are expected to go over 2.5 goals after 20 minutes.  A good habit to learn is to journal you’re trading. Journal everything when you entered, why you entered, why you picked that game and congratulate yourself when you do it right. If you bottled out on the red card, why? What was the reason that made you do that? What were you scared of?  How do you feel when it goes wrong? What’s it doing to you when it goes wrong? But again, you must separate yourself from the financial side, or if ‘I don’t win any money, the world ends.’

I think for anybody trading for 1-2 years and coming out level and learning a lot about yourself, learning a lot about how you operate, learning what suits you, and that I have not got a problem with people changing things because it doesn’t suit them as long as you’re not doing it every single day.  For example, I have a system that lays over 3.5 goals at 3, 4, and 5, so on a bad day, you could lose 12/13/14 points. Does that suit you? Could you trade that and make it better?  OK, I will trade it so I won’t lose the full amount.  OK, what do you do when a goal goes in early? What do you do when you’ve laid over 3.5 and a goal goes in at 4 minutes? What’s your execution going to be?  It all comes back to having a trading plan. 

One of the things I can pat myself on the back for is my consistency of execution. It is doing that and trying to do it with people I help. So I have got the volume up so they can see that it is working and get more doing, executing, and repeating it every time. One of my methods is 1.5 after 20 minutes. I could do it price-bound and might get in 2-3 minutes earlier, but I like to do it just in minutes, as I know that’s when I’ve got to enter. We could have five games on a Saturday that goal goes in the first five games in the first 10 minutes, so now you’ve got no trades. Now you’ve got no way I can make money. What do I do now? And the one great thing you realise in this game is that there is always another day. 

So, it is an unrecognised sort of lowly guarded part of what we do. Still, the execution of getting your execution right, making it absolutely spot on every single time, can be a massive part of how people are successful because if you can sit there and repeat that process day in, day out, time and time again, you’ll be amazed at how quickly little wins and things compound and you just get into a rhythm of it that’s the phrase that I’ve used quite a bit, is getting into that rhythm of just doing these things and the results will happen.  You’ve done all that work in building the system and what’s there.  You can’t control what happens on a football pitch or a racecourse. All you can control is how you interact with that market. When those games are going on, or those races are going on, you can’t guess the outcome.  You don’t know which ones are going to win and which ones are going to lose. Again, I think that is what people try and do; look at it and think they might have more chance against it.  It’s an opinion thing. We all focus on what can happen, what might happen, who’s good, and who isn’t, instead of just treating it as a market moving up and down and saying this is what I will do.

One of the key elements I think is apparent in pre-race trading is you can’t have your losses completely outrun your wins. I do not doubt that most people win, as in having more winning trades than losing one. Still, how does that turn out in a monetary situation between your winners and losers? You’ve got to find a way that is set up for you and that you can execute and get the strike rate to a level where every time I execute a trade like that, I can expect to get X amount.  What’s my strike rate, and what do we expect that to be over a long period.  What do I have to execute to make that happen?

So it’s been said that you can’t cover backing O2.5 goals as you won’t make enough money on them.  One of the key metrics I need before I execute any of my trades is what I need, what my strike rate is, and what I need to win per trade to cover my losses. So, let’s say I have 100 bets, and I know I’m running at 80%, so I know I will lose 20 points. So now I’ve got 80 trades to make a profit.  I will lose 20 points. What is 20/80? What have I got to win?  My winning trades have got to be at least .25 points per trade to break even, that’s .25 points after Commission 80 times. I would win 20 points; if my strike rate is 80 and I lose 20 points, I don’t make anything.  So, I know that is the absolute minimum I need to make a profit.  So now I look at the potential and execution of the method to make more profit.  Some trades will win .6, .7, .8 per trade. Suddenly, I don’t need many of those.  Now, if I win 25-30 of those, that’s already wiped my losers out, and anything on top of that is profit.  Breaking it down and in football, which is a predictable game, we can say that if a goal goes in, we can expect this to happen, like the example above.  It might not be exactly 100 games. It may be 90 games; another time, it may be 70 winners.  But over time, it all loops out and returns to the 80 % strike rate. Does it maintain itself over 1 year, 2 years or 300 bets or 600 bets?  I get asked how many bets I should have; 1000, there is no right or wrong answer.  But I would say you have to have a good balance of 300, 400, and 500 and then test it forward.  But if you are not going to execute and that is the crucial point correctly, EXECUTE every single time and tinker about and make changes here and there and make assumptions in the game which you don’t know anything about, and there is now disrespect there.  We do not have that data if someone gets sent of how that will affect that game.  I have tried to tell you as I do not know, and unless you have this information, neither do you. All I can do in this situation is follow my process of execution for that trade. 

Execution is critical in trading; this is the same with Pre-race trading.

You must know

Exactly when you will enter the trade.

Know when you will exit the trade.

This is a skill to develop, which is essential to be a profitable sports trader/bettor.  Anyone can click on a Betfair interface and decide to place a bet.  But to be profitable, it is to do the same thing repeatedly.  Executing that trade precisely as you had set out and not deviate or change the process.

We will move onto staking, etc., but firstly, you must have a plan, stick with that plan and execute those bets/trades as set out in your plan.  I refer to last week’s blog, ‘Be a Ninja at one market.’

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