Part 3: A few little secrets

I actually have very few (if any) secrets. Well, at least when it comes to trading… (!) What I do for a living is not mysterious or based on loopholes in the markets than no one else has discovered yet. I haven’t found a cash-mashine that I am just milking for money on a daily basis. If only…

I have worked hard and spent thousands of hours in the markets, gaining experience and slowly building on my knowledge and insight in this little corner of the Betfair trading game. And I am happy to share it.

In my opinion, the ability to profit from trading golf on Betfair comes down to one thing mainly:

The ability to handle and evaluate a massive amount of ever changing information from multiple sources, and from that determine where (and in which direction) odds are likely to move.

 

100+ players are in action at the same time, making birdies and bogeys every minute. In theory, the odds on every single player are affected by what all the other players do on the course. It matters if a player is currently on a par 5 or a par 3, it matters if he is playing into the wind or down wind, and it matters if he is in the fairway or behind a tree and so on.

Even if only a handful of players are in the mix come Sunday afternoon, the addition of growing pace, liquidity and odds movement as the finish line gets closer, complicates this game to great extend. Trading golf requires a cool head and the ability to work under pressure. You often don’t have time to think many thoughts before a decision has to be made.

Micro strategies

Well, the thing is… I don’t really use strategies. At least not in the way the traditional trader uses a strategy like the classic “Lay the Draw” in a football match as an example. My style of trading has developed through the years to be much more fluent and intuitive and based on a “sense of value” rather than a pre-determined set of well defined strategies.

That being said, there is almost always a primary thought or “micro strategy” behind every trade, so let me try to break it up a bit, and tell you a little about how I use these micro strategies to make a profit. Just remember (if you should feel the need to try this yourself), that I only use these isolated thoughts/strategies, when it makes sense in the bigger picture.

The stats

The world’s best golfers are the best for a reason, and particularly around the greens it can be hard for the market to comprehend just how good they are. A descent lie in a bunker where there is also a bit of green to work with, are much more likely to result in a par than a bogey, but the market very often disagrees. Usually I see an overreaction, when a leading player hits the greenside bunker, where the odds drift at least 4-5 ticks to long before dropping to a reasonable level.

Holing a 10 foot putt, however, is harder than it looks, and when a player hits a shot to 10 feet, the market tends to forget that the PGA Tour average is below 50% for holing the putt from this distance. The same thing often happens when players hit it to say 50 feet. When the distance of the put increases to more than 35-40 feet, the average putts used now rises above 2,0. That means that the chance of a bogey is higher than a birdie, but the market often seems to take for granted that a putt of 50+ feet will result in a tap-in par.

It isn’t rocket science to take a quick look at the PGA Tour stats page and use a couple of hours to compare it to the inplay odds movements on the Betfair Exchange.

Course knowledge

When trading golf, it is a good idea to have done your homework on the course. Where are the easy par 5’s? Where are the hard stretches on the course? Where is the water in play?

Laying a leading player entering the three hardest holes on the course can often be profitable. He doesn’t even have to make bogey for his odds to drift, because other players are likely to make birdies.

It can also be useful to know that the pin is located in the back right corner of the green (over water), with a player missing the fairway in deep rough on the right and his direct opponent in the rough on the left. Hint: Advantage player on the left!

Be prepared

Even though it is hard to be first mover on a big swing because of the delay of radio/TV signals and the occasional courtsider (trader live on the course), it is highly recommended to be prepared in certain key situations. Even if you don’t get the information first, you can be the first to react on the first movers in the market if you are ready to click.

It can be hard to be 100% ready over the full 5 hours of a final round, but the ability to identify the key shots from the leading players, where it can either go very bad or very good, can be very profitable if you are ready.

Turn it over

On any given Sunday, I usually place between 100 and 500 bets, depending on the development of the leaderboard. Some bets with small amounts on the higher odds and some big ones in the lower ranges. Obviously the turnover from this high level of activity is massive, and even a small edge like mine can generate a decent income.

In 2017 my total turnover on the Betfair Exchange was close to 1,8 million €, and with a return on investment (ROI) of around 1,75 %, I am able to do this for a living.

It is not making me rich, as I am sure you have already calculated, but I feel privileged to be able to make a living from my hobby. It is not just fun and happiness along the way, though. It is also hard work, and at times when the income doesn’t match the effort, the pressure to perform can be massive. The bills still need to be paid and everybody knows that kids tend to get hungry sometimes…

It is all part of the ups and downs of a golftrader.