There are lots of different ways to trade Betfair and not everyone trades the market live. Some have bots doing the trading for them so they can effectively make money trading Betfair while they sleep.
Imagine being able to push a button on a piece of software and then come back at the end of the day to see how much money it has made for you? You could effectively be lying on a beach refreshing your Betfair balance and seeing it go up whilst you sip on a Mojito! That is the dream for many anyway.
But is using bots always a good idea?
In recent years there has been much debate about the use of bots when trading Betfair. With software such as Bet Angel allowing you to use your own spreadsheet formula and effectively allow you to create your own betting bot there have been more and more traders doing this, or at least giving it a go.
So which option should you take with your trading? On paper it might sound like a no brainer to go with using bots since then you do no have to lift a finger. However, the are pros and cons with everything.
Getting The Bot Created
This really is the hard part. If you have a strategy that has proved profitable over time and does not require much human opinion then you can absolutely get a bot devised that should then do the job for you. However, with the markets becoming more and more efficient you really have to work hard to discover a strategy that can be automated in such a way and, chances are, someone else will have got their first to it. Even when you have found an edge that can be automated you have to ask yourself how long it will be until the markets (or other bot creators) catch on to that edge and it becomes less effective. Then you have to start the process all over again. Not to say it can not be done but it is lots of hard work you should take into account.
Bots Make Mistakes Too
You then have to ask yourself if you really trust a robot with your hard earned cash. I have heard many horror stories of traders who have checked their bot at the end of the day to see their entire balance was wiped out because of some small mistake they made with their programming.
Bots do fail very often and can cost you huge amounts at a time. There was the famous incident in 2011 when a traders bot failed and was laying the winning horse at odds of 29 and cost him £1.5 million. In the end Betfair voided the market but, on another day, they could just have easily not voided it and that trader would have been £1.5 million in debt!
Bots Can Not Spot Value
It is no secret that market inefficiencies are becoming harder and harder to spot these days. The way most sports traders are still profiting from the markets, especially in-play, is by being able to spot value. A human can easily spot when a strongly fancied soccer team does not look like they are quite at it and when a highly fancied Tennis favourite looks like he is having an off day. Bots struggle to spot these things and usually their price models are based on what the starting price was. At this time of writing, bots struggle to adapt to efficiently to deviations in-play and this is how the manual home traders can beat the market bots in certain situations.
As mentioned above, if you are thinking about creating a bot then you will not be the only one. As sports trading becomes more and more sophisticated there will be more and more clever people working on finding inefficiencies to exploit and building their bots. The courtsiders who rake in millions of pounds from Tennis Trading are effectively using a bot to calculate the exact price movement per point. You can be sure that syndicates such as that are probably already working on and finding inefficiencies in other markets and they have millions to invest in finding them.
Use a bot? Or trade manually?
The main take away from this article should not be that bots are bad or to be avoided, but to show you that it is not quite as easy or reliable as it seems. If you have a strategy that you feel could be performed just as efficiently by a robot then you should probably look more into getting one created as it can free up time and allow you to do other things.
Until then, stick to trading manually! 😉
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