After years of waiting, I finally had the chance to sit down and talk one on one with the legendary football trader known as Psychoff. In the most detailed and in-depth interview he has EVER done we talk football trading, strategy, value and we get down to what really helps him to achieve an average £50k per month profit trading football on Betfair.
If you are unaware of Psychoff, he originally came into public knowledge when he posted a blog (now deleted) back in 2009 detailing how he was trading his way to profits of over £100k from the football markets.
His blog was the stuff of legend and it blew the mind of many people at the time since it showed the amazing possibilites of football trading, at a time when football trading was relatively new. However, one day the blog content mysteriously vanished one day and so did Psychoff. So much so that we even posted an article on the mystery of his vanishing back in 2011.
Thankfully in 2016, Psychoff, after moving from Turkey to live in the UK, resurfaced via social media and most notably via Twitter. Since then he has been busy profiting from the football markets and sharing valuable tips to his followers on social media.
This is a football trader who has previously shown a profit of over $200,000 made on Betfair in a 3 month period and his most recent shared profit screen showed 65k Euros profit made in December 2017.
So this is a man worth listening to if you are interested in cracking the football markets yourself. I think you will find some information that will surprise you in this as Psychoff reveals how he got started in football trading, the main markets he trades, the types of strategies he uses and most importantly, how he gets his edge over the football markets (hint: there is NO technology involved). Remember, Psychoff originates from Turkey but as you can see his English is pretty good!
Grab a cup of tea for this one and maybe a snack too. This is a good one 😉
Hello Psychoff and thanks for taking the time to do this interview. The readers have been requesting this for a long time. So lets start at the beginning and tell the STL readers how you got involved with trading football on the betting exchanges?
Hello to you and all of my followers and thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. I have always been interested in football since my childhood. I used to watch football matches with my dad on TV when I was 7 or 8. I also played football as an amateur in my youth and always loved watching footie too.
I was introduced to betting exchanges and Betfair in 2005 by a friend of mine. Until that date, I was a punter and just doing small stake straight bets on football matches. I don’t remember making any profits in these early times. Those were only for fun and to make watching the matches more exciting.
So you didn’t exactly go pro straight away. What was your main day job before you became a full time football trader?
Yes, I completed my psychiatry education in 2005 and began working in a clinic. I wasn’t too busy in the early times of my medical career so I had lots of time to think about trading rather than punting.
And so, I started to take my first steps into trading world. At the start, I was watching the live pictures and simply scalping the markets.
After a couple of months, my initial bank grew very quickly and this dragged me into a dream full of money and success. Of course, this didn’t last long and I lost all my bank in a weeks time.
Greed, chasing the losses, failure in bank management etc. All these mistakes caused me to lose all my savings. After this, I decided to stop trading forever and I promised my wife I would never come back!
Wow that is crazy that you almost gave up. And now today many will look at your results and feel like you make it look easy?
You can find very few things which were easy in my story. When I started, there were not many shark traders on Betfair, so making money by scalping was so much easier when compared with today.
Anyway, after my jubilee, I started to spend more time in the clinic totally putting trading out of my life. Until I met a colleague who would later change my life forever.
He was working as an ophthalmologist in our clinic. One day in a conversation, I told him about my unsuccessful experience in sports trading. He listened to me carefully and made me the offer of a life time: “Do you want to give one more chance to yourself?“.
I rejected this unexpected offer right away and stated that I’ve already promised to my wife about that. He repeated his offer and explained the conditions: “You will risk nothing. I will deposit for you. I trust you and your abilities. We will talk about your trade sessions everyday. This time will be different. If you succeed, you will pay back to me later, if not, it will not be a problem for me“.
I told my wife about this generous offer at once and after her confirmation, the story began….
This is interesting. I remember on your old blog you used to refer to psychoff as a “we”. So this explains that…
Yes, the Psychoff nickname was born in those days from our medical titles; “psych” from psychiatry and “off” from ophtalmology. Later we started to write a blog so followers could see my daily trade results and some comments about the day’s important matches. In 2009, we started the “$100K Challange” and completed that with success within a few months. After legal restrictions about betting in my country, we had to stop writing the blog. You can still visit and read our farewell message here:
We have many sweet memories from the blog days. Everyday, we were discussing my trades. I learnt a lot from him. Not just about trading but about life, about not being scared of making mistakes. I learnt that time and experience are the most important things in the world. I learnt that I always have to improve myself if I want to be permanent. He is not just a mentor but also like a big brother to me. I owe him too much.
I also learnt a lot from my previous mistakes. I learnt how to control my myself. And to be honest, I’m still learning everyday. Trading is an endless journey, changing day by day and you have to adapt to it otherwise you can not stay on top.
Do you feel your background in psychiatry actually helped with discipline when trading football?
This is one of the key points in my trading career. The other one is my character. And both of them helped me to be successful in my trading life. As a trait, I’m a calm, cold-blooded man. And I can’t deny that psychiatry education really helped me to control both my feelings and behaviours which is crucial in trading. Feelings are our enemies in trading. A successful trader is the one who can ignore them.
Let’s move forward to today. Now you use some pretty big stakes on the football markets. Did you have to scale that up?
In the beginning, my stakes were low as EUR 100-200 per bet and this was quite high compared to my bank. I recommend using stakes not more than 5% (preferably 3%) of total bank when scalping or straight betting, especially to beginners. After 1-2 years, I started to use stakes around EUR 1000 and this gradually improved. Now, I set my stakes only according to the market liquidity as I don’t have any account balance limit.
I definitely dont use any loss recovery system. In fact, I dont see my losses as ‘real losses’. I see them as ‘investments’. Some investments returns with profit, some does not.
Was it always football you were successful with?
As I mentioned, I started with footie. In the past years, I tried horse racing (prerace and inplay) but neither achieved consistent results and I didn’t enjoy it either. Prerace trading wasn’t for me especially having to look at lots of numbers on the screen for hours! There is neither a ball nor any action. This is of course a joke. 🙂
But I do have very successful friends in horse trading and I admire them. I also like watching tennis. But scalping in tennis is almost impossible because courtsiders are a big problem for that sport. According to me, you should have a strong knowledge to trade in tennis and be successful. Unfortunately I can’t even tell you the current men’s world #1.
The other sport I like to watch and I have been quite successful in trading is basketball. But the main problem for this sport is match times since nearly all European basketball matches overlap with the footie. NBA may be another point of interest but I am not young enough to watch them after midnight.
Football trading is taking too much time from me so trading in another sport doesn’t make sense as I need to take time to my family, my personal interests and to rest.
That is understandable, especially since you say you trade football for 10-12 hours per day on weekends. On Twitter, we often see around 2-3 goal alerts per day from you. But how many actual trades would you open on average during this time period?
Actually I am trying to watch as many matches as I can and also trade in these matches. I guess the total number of bets should be “thousands” in a regular weekend day. Unfortunately, most of my bets/trades are instant which makes them impossible to share. So I only share my late goal expectations with my followers. Of course I bet more than I share but I am trying to share the most trusted ones.
Thousands? Wow. So how many strategies would you say you operate with? And how many strategies would you say a professional should really need?
I am not operating with set strategies like “laying the draw” or “backing the favourite when they are behind” etc. I often receive some questions about strategies like these from my followers and they ask me if they work or not. Generally, I must say that I don’t believe in these kinds of constant strategies , especially without watching the game.
In these days, many companies are involved in exchange trading business. They have employees from different disciplines like software engineers, statistical analysts, mathematicians, pro traders etc. They are getting the fastest data or live pictures available and processing this data with much more powerful computers using scientific methods. Sometimes they are trying to control the market with big amounts of money. As a result, it is very difficult to compete with them in an exchange market using a couple of constant strategies. This is why watching the game is very important.
My own trading style evolved in years from “backing the unders” to “laying the unders”. As I always say, my biggest edge is watching the live game, reading it carefully while comparing this data with the odds. After this evaluation if I see a value, I open my position. This may be laying the leading team, laying unders etc.
It is hard to say how many strategies should a professional need but it is clear that the more weapons you have, the stronger you will be.
You have said you do not use statistics at all for trading. What do you look for that makes you feel there is value and it is time to get in the market?
Yes I strongly believe that prematch statistics and inplay stats don’t help you to find the value. They just help you to know the possibilies of an outcome. But the point is, bookmakers are also using this data to determine the odds and they have a larger data pool than we can reach. And the odds in exchange markets follow the bookmakers because of the arbitrage bots which are working 24/7.
Seeing value is a feeling and feeling the value depends on the number of matches you have watched before. I guess I’ve watched tens of thousands of matches so far in my life which helps me to decide which odds are value and which are not.
Many followers ask me where to start and I usually advise them to watch live matches as well as the odds at the same time and try to understand why in a match between X and Y at 85th minute, under 2.5 goal odds is lets say 1.40 instead of 1.50 or 1.30.
Most of us have knowledge about the prices of cell phones I guess. When we see a new one, we ask about its features and price and usually have an idea if it is cheap/normal/expensive because of that. On the other hand a 8-year old child possibly cannot easily make this evaluation as they doesn’t have much previous data to compare.
As a result, watching the game is crucial (at least for me) and cannot be compared with any statistics or any inplay data.
Would say the way for someone to get an edge in football trading is by reading a football match better than the average person?
Exactly it is.
Better than an average person and more importantly sometimes better than bookmakers. Because bookmakers have to use stats while determining their odds and in the longterm, stats always win. So you have to pick the best opportunities by yourself.
Watching the whole match is a huge advantage and I can clearly say that I am more successful when I am able to watch the entire game. But this is usually impossible because of match times overlapping each other. In these cases, I have to watch only 2nd half, or sometimes the last 20-25 minutes.
What is a good sign that there is a goal coming in the late stages?
There is not a definite clear sign of an upcoming goal but the most obvious one is by looking at the behaviour on the pitch and one or both team’s desire to score a goal.
Your goal alerts are very popular on twitter and you seem to have a pretty high strike rate with them. What is your strike rate?
Very good question indeed.
I recommend keeping tracks of past bets to every beginner but I have to admit that I stopped doing this for years. The only records I am still keeping is in my monthly P&L. I also don’t use any staking plan as I set my stakes according to the market liquidity.
But this is also very important, especially for beginners. If you have a limited bank balance (I guess this includes 99% of traders), it is crucial to use a staking plan. Otherwise you are vulnerable to any possible unlucky series which may occur at any time in this business.
When you become professional, unfortunately you start to disregard some important rules and I’m not proud of this.
You said on Twitter recently that you do not trade matches where the markets expect goals and you do not trade Barcelona or Real Madrid games. Can you explain why this is?
If I don’t misremember, what I said was, I don’t give goal alerts in major teams’ matches especially if they are playing with a weak opponent. The reason behind this is very clear. As I stated in earlier, the matches where one of the teams is a heavy favorite, there is a big expectation of goal(s) for the whole match which makes the under odds high rather than value.
According to my experience, it is hard to stay in longterm profit if you always bet on an expected outcome. As most of you know, I give my “GOAL ALERTS” at around 70-75th minute with the overall odds on under being 1.80 to 2.00. These odds are 2.50 to 3.00 in another game where there is a big expectation for a goal like Barca or Real Madrid games. And most importantly these odds are usually not value. You may easily lose serious money with an unlucky series of 3 or 4 matches in a row.
Interesting. So tell me about the day you hit a 1000-1 winner on a Bundesliga match. What was your thinking when you backed @ 1000?
It was actually a piece of luck rather than being wisdom.
I found a goal suspicious and sent a back bet @1000 to the current score. It matched and than the goal was disallowed because of a clear offside. This was a couple of years ago and before VAR. Recently, I matched another one in Portugal (thanks to VAR this time) and I am going to share the story and screenshots in my twitter account soon.
Was that your most memorable football trade?
I forget my wins/losses too quickly but there is an exception. It was a friendly international between England and Chile in november 2013 which resulted 0-2 . Alexis Sanchez’s 90+4 goal brought me 56K which made him a very special striker for me.
How did that happen? What was your position?
If I dont misremember, the referee added 4 or 5 extra minutes and the odds in the under market was extremely low like around 1.10. Everybody was assuming that the match will end like that. So I took a risk of 5K which was very good value for that game and thank you to Alexis:) It is still the biggest win with a single bet/trade in my career. Here is the highlights of this unforgettable game:
Many would imagine you are the perfect football trader. Do you ever make mistakes?
I make lots of mistakes, more than you can imagine and I find this very normal.
Think that, every click of a mouse is a decision and you are doing this thousands of times a day for nearly 15 years. These mistakes were more common when I was less experienced but I must say that I still make some silly mistakes, after all I’m a human:)
Finally, what is the number one piece of advice that you would give to yourself if starting out again from now or for anyone starting today?
This is one of the most frequent ones that I receive with e-mails or DMs.
For beginner footie traders, the area of interest should be over and under goal markets and match odds markets as these ones have the most liquidity and accurate odds.
A beginner should try to create their own goal alerts with very low stakes as low as GBP 2 or even with play money. Watch the match in the final 20-25 minutes and predict a goal being scored or not. I highly recommend to keep records of these bets (odds, minute, match score) and after 100 matches, they can make an evaluation to see where they are. I will be more than happy if they share the results with me and ask for my advice.
Alternatively, there are countless opportunities/strategies in football trade. I’ll also try to do my best if one of my followers ask about his/her strategy.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview Psychoff. Remember to follow him on Twitter for useful tips and those legendary goal alerts!
So there you have it, lots of gems of information in there for anyone with an interest in football trading. If you have any questions/comments please leave them below 🙂