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“The trick you said, was never play the game too long” – Bob Seger

 

After 12 years of doing this full time, it’s time to say goodbye.

This has been coming for a while and it’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly – it’s been a weight on my mind and drifting along hoping for things to change has been dragging me down and holding me back from moving on.

The truth is the opportunity that was Betfair is no longer there for me – at least to the same level it was, so it’s time to lay down the mouse.  I could keep grinding away, but I turned 45 this month and I’m at the stage now where I’m asking myself if this is what I’d like to be doing full time in another 10/15 years and the answer I keep coming back to is ‘probably not.’

So how did it get to this point?

Firstly, the markets have changed.  This isn’t to be unexpected and over the years I’ve had to re-invent myself numerous times to keep-up, but things feel very different now and I’m out of ideas.

Many Betfair users will have noticed liquidity drying up on many sports over the last few years and cricket is no different.  Everyone looks at the headline figures showing the total matched for each game, especially in the biggest tournaments like the IPL, but this on its own is not a good indicator for the health of a market. Liquidity is the ability to enter and exit your positions quickly and the reality is this has become more difficult. The dynamics have shifted to a few large accounts having an awful lot of control and with the rise of automation and better technology these guys can take advantage of market changes much quicker than was previously possible.  Hats off to them, they are now dominant and with TV pictures getting more and more delayed their edge will have increased substantially especially if they have access to groundsiders and/or low latency real-time feeds.

Secondly there is the risk of potential changes to the gambling landscape and associated changes to legislation.  The Gambling Commission recently conducted its review, and their conclusions will feed into the government’s decision making, but with topics like gambling addiction and the collapse of well-known betting firms firmly in the spotlight, tighter regulation is being called for by many people in the public eye.  I won’t get into the rights or wrongs of this topic, but the reality is that as someone whose livelihood solely relies on gambling the risk surrounding this area has risen and turning a blind eye to it would be unwise.

When you take these things into account it’s not surprising that Premium Charges continue to be an anchor weighing me down and when things are tough the last thing you want to be thinking of is potential 40% deductions at the end of the week.  Psychologically they have a massive effect, and this only escalates if edges start to erode.  I said back in 2008 when they were introduced that they were a dream killer and I stick by that – positive word of mouth stopped overnight and stalled growth.

 

There was talk of Betfair introducing an annual allowance to help with this, but things have gone quiet, and it seems as though their pricing team are struggling to keep customers and shareholders happy at the same time.  It’s a tough puzzle to solve but something will have to give and unfortunately for me it looks as if that time will come too late.

So, there’s my thoughts, but before I sign-off I will say that I am not looking for any sympathy here. Of course, I’m a bit sad – trading sports on Betfair has been a huge part of my life for a long time so saying goodbye is difficult, but I am very grateful too and still love the exchange.  It’s a great product which makes it even more frustrating to watch what it’s become.  I firmly believe that had different paths been chosen by management things would be very different, but that’s something we will never know for sure.

 

What next?

I’ll still be keeping my Betfair account open, at least in the short term, but I need to gently close the door and investigate new opportunities.  I have some things in mind, but no firm plans so if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears!

As for my twitter account and website I imagine they will look a bit different over the coming months and with the lack of cricket and trading references I’m not sure my followers will be too keen on knowing my day-to-day thoughts on other subjects.

Finally, I have some big thank yous to handout. 

Thank you to ‘you’ for following my journey and being interested in what I do.  I’ve met quite a few of you along the way and all-in-all you are a decent bunch. I wish you well on your own trading paths and wish you much success.

Thank you also to those at ‘Bet Angel’ and ‘Geeks Toy’ for giving me the tools to do what I’ve done for this long.  Without both of those I wouldn’t have gotten this far.

And lastly thank you to Betfair.  There have been ups and downs, but you have helped changed my life and I’ve loved (most) of it.

Mark

23/05/2022