Starting Out With Sports Trading – 6 Things I WISH I Knew

The end of the year is a good time to reflect and recently I have been thinking a lot about how the sports trading scene has changed so much since I first got involved with it. It is a different landscape for those starting out today. Some would say it is harder which might be true, but on the flipside there is a lot more information and help out there which should make it easier.

But here are 6 things I wish I knew when I first started out trading the betting exchanges…

1 – There is NO golden goose

I might not be the same as everyone but when I first started out trading on Betfair I was convinced there was some magic way to lock in a profit every single time. I was VERY badly influenced by screenshots showing P&L accounts without a single losing trade.

In the end I probably wasted the first year of my development looking around for some golden goose and a way to make money every time. Even if there were to be a way to do this, it would not last long since the markets would catch on and your time is better off spent becoming proficient at trading the markets themselves.

So one thing I wish somone told me was not to waste time on looking for such a thing.

2 – Take a PORTFOLIO approach

After chasing the golden goose for so long I began to start trading for real but then I began wasting even more time. I had it in my mind that I wanted to use just one method and one method only to make my money. After all, that is how the pros seem to be doing it.

So I wasted a lot of time jumping from system to system and strategy to strategy.

Unbelievably I actually abandoned winning strategies if I did not feel they were making “enough” money. Really I should have been looking to add strategy after strategy to my portfolio so that I could ride out the losing streaks on certain methods. Similar to point number one, I was looking for a strategy with a near perfect strike rate since mentally I could not handle having losing trades which leads me on to the next point…

3 – Losing is part and parcel of trading

I really wish there was someone who could have grabbed me and told me that there would be losing streaks. Some strategies might even have a losing month but if you are in profit overall then there is no reason to abandon it.

Coming from a matched betting background was part of the problem since I was used to locking in regular profits (albeit small ones) and just moving on and upwards. With trading there are swings and roundabouts, however patience is important. With all sorts of investing there are always down days and the profit line is never a straight up arrow. It is important to remember that and not sweat over short term losses.

4 Betfair forums are a WASTE of time

In the early days, I spent hours and hours reading and searching forums looking for even the smallest gems of information. However, I came to realise that those who are profitable making money on Betfair are not likely to share anything good on the forums apart from the usual “patience and discipline is the key” advice and even when you think you have found something good you can never be too sure about the source of the information. Come to think of it, the majority of those who I know make money on Betfair are never found near forums and/or social media once they crack it.

I wish someone had told me never to bother reading forums related to Betfair as they are usually just full of cryptic clues and lead you on a roundabout to nowhere.

5 In-play trading is all about match reading

It does not matter what sport it is. If you are good at watching that sport and reading how the match is going then you will do well on the in-play markets. This goes for football, tennis, cricket or anything else.

Forget looking at statistitcs both pre-game and in-play, look at the actual event itself to get the full story. The edge is found in being able to get a feel for what might happen next and acting upon it.

Forget, trying to beat the in-play delay or being the first to market. You will never be faster than the courtsiders. So you need to develop your own edge and that comes with experience of watching the sport itself.

QUICK TIP: Live televised sport is designed to be unpredictable and exciting. So if an event seems over in the very early stages then usually there is an opportunity for some sort of trade as when the losing team/player mounts even the tiniest of comebacks the market panics and the odds will move in your favour. The best opportunities are found in-play this way.

I really wish someone had told me to concentrate on watching the sport and reacting to events in the match itself rather than looking for some sort of magic in-play formula that you put in no matter what is happening in the match itself.

6 Don’t be afraid to PAY for information

I must admit I am stubborn. And when I first started I was pretty broke too and so I was determined to try and learn it all by myself.

In the end, I wasted YEARS.

Looking on forums for free information, looking on blogs that just showed the P&L and nothing else. Testing and tweaking my own strategies having no real idea of what makes a good strategy a good strategy.

I could have saved myself at least a year of wasted time if I invested in going to a course or even just buying a system or two to see how others approach things.

My turning point actually came when I bought a few systems and messed around with them.

Even if the system was not quite what I wanted to trade with then it usually at least gave me good ideas to try. It was also very helpful to see the trading style of others and learn from that.

When I first started out the quality of the paid information was not even that great, today anyone starting out has much better access to good material and courses.


So those were the 6 things I wish I knew when I first started Betfair trading. I know there are some experienced traders who read this so leave a comment below with something you wish you knew when starting out. 🙂


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  1. Excellent information yet again, thank you from a newbie

  2. Ian Beresford says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the overall thrust of your article but especially point 5. I have also taken rather too long to realise that the only information that is worth knowing is what you observe during an event. Tip…try body language in women;s tennis matches, especially events just below the top level.

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      So true Ian!

  3. Neil Butler says:

    Great article, I can relate ! I too started matched betting & it was frustrating to start trading where you can see much more potential for profit but soon realise it isn’t easy, being too eager to make money was my downfall, should have spent more time developing skills & experience, I attended the bet trader course & that was well worth it. Absolutely believe you should listen to the advice of beginning on training mode then small stakes, trading is great.

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      I definitely agree. It can be a tricky learning curve if coming from a matched betting background. Thanks for the comment Neil!

  4. Lynda Whall says:

    Excellent article – I haven’t started trading yet and will probably make all the above mistakes!

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      Thanks for the comment, hopefully you don’t make these same mistakes 🙂

  5. I love this site, i’ve been trading for 5 years now. You bring up many great points and another one i struggled with is where to start, if any newbies have any knowledge in a particular sport then i would advise putting your energy there, likely to be able to develop and edge by having foundation knowledge.

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