/ / From IT Freelancer To “Five Figure” Football Trading Profits – The Essex Sports Trader

From IT Freelancer To “Five Figure” Football Trading Profits – The Essex Sports Trader

In this week’s Trader Talk I speak with Steve W aka The Essex Sports Trader who some of you might follow on Twitter.

Steve is a member of UFT that is still in his first year of trading football full time but he has just clicked with it and seen instant positive results. Last we spoke he just cleared the £45k profit mark for 2020. (Probably more by now!)

And he has not done this by taking any wild risks, crazy over-staking, chasing or anything like that.

Just solid football trading.

Since many traders often take a year or two before they find their feet with sports trading it is interesting to know what Steve did differently from most that allowed him to see success much quicker.

Grab a nice cup of tea, coffee or an ice cold beer and let’s get into it!

Hi Steve, thanks for taking the time to do this for the Sports Trading Life readers.

Thanks Ben, it’s a pleasure and I was taken aback and proud that you asked me in the first place. 

So today you are doing very well with the sports trading and profits close to 45k for the year so far in your FIRST year going full time. We will get into how you do that shortly.

But firstly, tell me what you were doing before you stumbled upon the world of sports trading?

Before sports trading I was working in the city for over 20 years. I quit a-levels at school after becoming disillusioned, found a junior job with one of the big banks and just started working. 

During that 20+ years I’ve been in banking, insurance and for the most part within asset management.  After the global financial crisis in 2008, I ended up contracting.  That took me to the Netherlands for a while, before coming back to London, creating a strong reputation, starting a business, building that up to turning over a few million a year, before selling up to a larger consultancy in exchange for part ownership of that business.  It was three years in that business before I got itchy feet again, and sold my shares in it.

Since then I have just been messing around with motorbikes, BBQ’s, moving house and getting fat…..even so its been fun haha

I think that numerous experiences from my past; good, bad, and very difficult has helped me quickly work through challenges of becoming successful at trading as my mindset is that I will become good at Sports Trading, its just a case putting in the hours learning, finding ‘the how’ and/or focusing on what is the cause of why something isn’t going well. 

I don’t get held back by ego or fear of failing.

Sounds like you are living your dream these days mate! And just to check your online name is because you live in Essex right? Still there?

Yes, I still live in Essex.  I always have since birth, but I don’t pluck my eyebrows, pump up my lips or have a fake tan and I wear socks with my shoes haha. There’s nothing behind the name to be honest, its a bit boring really isn’t it, perhaps I should change it?!  I did originally have my twitter handle as Green Shark Trading as us traders all love a bit of green, and I am fascinated by sharks!  

I even got treated to a trip to South Africa last year by my girlfriend for my 40th birthday where I cage dived with Great White Sharks and one of my tattoos is of a Great White.  The profile picture on Twitter does have a meaning. It is of a cartoon type shark face that I have had airbrushed onto the tank of one of my motorbikes!

 I really should of stuck with Green Shark Trading shouldn’t I haha!

Swimming with sharks? Rather you than me! Haha! How did you discover sports trading?

I had heard of trading a few years back via a good mate of mine, but it didn’t sound all that attractive to be honest! He talked about risking 100’s to make a few pounds on a horse race, or laying 3-3 at the start of a football match.  I never followed it up. I wish I had knowing what I know now.

Sometime after that I was watching The Rocket playing snooker against a young Thai fella, and so I had a bet on this young guy as he was banging shots in from all over the place!  He got in front, and that’s when I first saw the ‘Cash out’ button, and that made me realise after pushing it that I could make money regardless of the outcome (Ronnie won) based on market movements.

Then more recently (latter part of 2019) as I had decided I need to find a career (I had considered a few other things) I am interested in, and have more get up and go in me after deciding I had had enough of corporate life I started watching the markets and how they moved when watching NFL games.  I was only using small stakes but it seemed simple enough to make a bit of money.

That’s when I kind of dreamed really………hang on, can I watch sport all day and make money? and not have to commute anymore?

Indeed. I used to do a commute of 1 hour each way myself at one point. Thinking back that is a huge waste of the day, almost 10% of your day!

Anyway,  you are currently doing this full time as your only income stream. What is a typical day like for you at the moment?

Yes, it’s currently my only income. 

I have been lucky enough to make a few quid from my past, and so once I had moved house I set myself 2 years to become profitable enough to cover my monthly bills.

I have looked at other things, such as developing BBQ rubs and sauces (check out @stevesbbqshack on Instagram), breeding exotic animals…..as you do!  I may still do these in the future as I wouldn’t mind spreading my time and risk.

Trading wise – for one reason and another I don’t really spend full time hours wise on trading.  Crazy as it sounds bearing in mind the money that is being made. I really don’t have a typical or normal day as I am still trying to figure out what that is as I always have more than half an eye on learning more. 

Add COVID to that where the kids are home, sport being all over the place, as are the teams, the players and their performances, then its all been a bit of a beautiful chaos I have been in, I would say. 

With what has happened this year I don’t have a settled routine just yet.

Most people struggle with trading for a while before they become profitable. What do you think allowed you to progress faster than most?

When I embark on something I really do throw myself at it and so I did most of the courses you could do.

I read Caan Berry’s guide to becoming a Betfair trader. Googling then took me via numerous articles and of course YouTube and the Sports Trading Life videos.  I don’t believe there is a page on YouTube after you have searched “sports trading” where the name does not appear Ben 😉

During my past career I soon realised that to become one of the best, you need to learn from the best, but more so on top of that do not try to become someone else.  Take the best from what you learn that applies to you, and how that can be moulded to your strengths, weaknesses, attitude, work rate and thought processes to become the best version of you at the subject you are trying to master.

Very true. I have found that finding the right comfort level with your trading style is very important. If someone feels uncomfortable with a strategy they will easily give it up. So making small tweaks (without totally changing it) is always a good approach.

Was it around this point that you also joined Ultimate Football Trading?

Yes. So on watching your videos, I messaged you (I don’t know if you remember) asking when you were going to open the doors because I wanted to buy the course asap and get on with it.  Also if you did 1-2-1 courses, and about having a beer! Haha

When the course finally opened, I bought all of it, including Tennis. 

I also signed up with Tony Hargraves (aka The Badger), bought all of his ebooks and I am a member of his 100 club.  I have also done Ersen’s (aka Psychoff’s) beginner and advanced courses.

All of those have been very different in their subject, sports, strategies and delivery, so they have all been a great mix of education for me.

To an extent it’s been information overload but I have since built my own “playbook” from the strategies and approaches I have learnt to try and streamline my learning of strategies into one place.

The football side of things was down to your course, straight up. Each video in the course lays out a strategy and the gold is the example trades which hammer in the belief part of your training.

Well something is definitely working so far since you are consistently profitable without doing anything like over-staking or chasing etc. I guess soon you will probably want to narrow things down to the strategies that are really moving the needle for you.

Moving on, I noticed you have been willing to help others on social media so it was probably a shock to you to encounter the many trolls that exist in this industry. Many of them will criticise others for paying money to do a course and learn. Why do you think people seem to have a problem with that?

I have always liked to help others, and got something from explaining something to someone in a different way, and they then get it.  It takes a time and money and some dodgy trades to learn lessons sometimes, but I am always happy to help people who if anything, just need a bit of confidence in themselves to give it a go. 

There are two guys I speak to regularly on DM in twitter.  Lets call them D and J.  D now comes to me with some cracking selections in play, and J is a data and analytical wizard who pulls out o2.5 selections for fun, but hasn’t traded one yet.  I enjoy chatting to these guys and helping them as I guess I am approachable, but they should know they help me too – the interaction is something I enjoy.

As for the trolls – “criticizing someone who wants to better themselves by paying an expert to teach them”. 

Just read that sentence – it sounds to me like they didn’t go to school, and/or are jealous of something.  Be the best you can be, don’t put someone else down, just because of your own insecurities. 

The race is long, and sooner or later they will realise it is only with themselves.

Very well put Steve. We all went to school and we all remember there were those kids who disrupted the lessons and stopped others from learning. It is almost exactly like that and we all know how those kids ended up as adults!

You were one of the few people to have paid around 2-3k to do Psychoff’s course. Since then you have made the money back and more. Therefore, it sounds like it was worthwhile investment?

Yes, I paid for both courses, and completed them one after the other over the course of two weeks.  I didn’t think I would need the beginner course, but I am so glad I did it.  It meant I got to watch a master perform his craft, and had a longer amount of time to ask questions and build a rapport with Ersen. 

I’ve seen his P&L, and how he trades, and anyone who says he is fake or anything else detrimental is just plain wrong.  I have seen it with my own eyes.  He is genuinely a lovely human being, who is excellent at what he does and nothing or no one will change my mind on that because I have seen it first hand.  We have stayed in touch as he wants to know how his students are getting on.  It really does matter to him that we do well, and I think that is great.

It takes a little while to get to grips employing his strategies generally, and it will take a long time to get anywhere close to him.  But as he said, now you know how to do it, it doesn’t mean you have to do it in the same games with all the other sharks like him haha

I have made back the cost of the course using those strategies (most of it was done in two Australian games recently), but I should’ve made so much more, but it will take practice, and more games.  I am looking forward to the new seasons getting fully underway in Europe to try and achieve some huge green screens.

“Huge Green Screens”, I like the sound of that.

So strategy wise, it is mainly Match Odds and goal markets you trade? Are you using the strategies from the UFT course and from Psychoff? Or have you now adapted them into your own style?

Yes, I mainly operate in those markets.  Your strategies and Psychoff’s are mainly in those markets but employed in different ways.  A lot does depend on whether I am watching the game or not.

I am still trying to figure out my true style, or whether I need clear distinction between styles if I am match reading or stats trading.  That is all coming together too as I work out what type of trading is most successful, what I enjoy more and going from there really.  I have started recording my trades differently recently too. 

I am using a heatmap type of logging to differentiate trading type, strategy employed and profit amounts – it’s still very much a work in progress as is my playbook.  The playbook is me writing up each strategy on a one pager in my words.  I then have my trading laws, and one of those laws is I can only ever use stuff in the playbook.  It has helped tighten up discipline.

(Finished in a 2-2 draw)

I love Fireball and Relay but most of all System X.  I used the variations of the first two loads of times, but nothing beats a system X when it comes off.  There were a couple recently in the French league, D messaged me on one. I used a lot of snowball when we only had Belarus.  It seems a bit negative, but there was a lot of money that was made in backing unders, especially when the season restarted or games had to be completed after lockdown.  The rust in the players seemed to produce less goals for a little while.

From the profits you are currently making it looks like the bank has grown, what did you start with initially?

I started with 2k bank and had to top up a couple of times in the first couple of months. I did this as I just became used to seeing you use £100 in the example trades on your course, its was money I could afford to lose (but didn’t want to of course!) but it also gives returns that made the trades interesting! It also worked perfectly for a 5% per trade stake plan. I then built it up to just over 20k over a couple months. Once it got to that point I found that I struggled to get past putting more than £500 on trades I started out putting £100 on, this made me inconsistent on how I staked which caused a couple of issues in my mind that I didn’t like.

Therefore, I changed my staking plan, and also decided its not really worth having much over 5k in the bank. I also as a matter of course started dripping money into pretty much everything I opened, I still do unless I am getting involved in the last few minutes of a game. I now tend to keep a bank of 7.5k and withdraw money weekly as my wages. Its over 5k as I use up to 10% when scalping. Paying myself wages; I have found has been another step towards treating this as a job.

It is good to hear you say you “could afford to lose it”. This is important as many fly in with money they can’t afford. 2k to one person is not a lot but 2k to someone else is a HUGE amount.

I noticed you do some trading on the horse racing. How is that going?

Yes, I wanted to learn something other than football trading so it opens up more options when working out my schedule of trading.  With football generally being an evening and weekend event, especially for the higher quality European leagues, I decided to go for Horse racing as I can make money during the day whilst my partner is working and the kids are at school.

I have been trading in running, and laying a horse when it shows signs of pressure that lead to it not winning the race. I am profitable on this, but it has without doubt been the trickiest to become consistent at. There are so many moving parts, and things to look for and react to.

Based on being burnt a few times on this, I would urge anyone giving it a go to ensure they are in liability mode on their software, and always trade out.  Some of the comebacks I have seen in the relatively short time I have traded the sport are remarkable.

I saw a picture of your set up and it looks very cool.  What does it consist of?

Thanks mate, it’s been an iterative process to get it where it is.  I think that any money you invest in yourself to learn, or in your setup that you use to trade is money well spent.  Its something Psychoff also encourages, to use a percentage of your profit to invest in yourself and equipment.  It’s all adding to your edge.  This month for instance I have bought Steve Ward’s new book.  He has a proven track record of improving a traders mindset.

I have a gaming PC (left) with wired internet connected to two screens, a macbook pro (right) connected to two other screens.  The screen in the middle is in the next room that I have sky and racing TV on.

The Macbook and 2 screens was my original setup, I have then added the rest as profits have grown.  I have trading software on both setups, and sometimes on Saturdays stats trade football on the macbook, and punctate that with racing trading on the gaming PC.  I think it is wise to have a backup login to betfair which is what both gives me, as does my ipad which is on 4G. 

I only added the ipad (which I have had for a few years) to my desk as I was recently trading football and there was a powercut.  I am even prepared for that now should it happen again and I need to get out of a scalping trade for example!  

It has to be asked, what is the reason behind your love for South Korean football team Jeonbuk Motors. You even have their badge as your screen saver there!

Haha yes it is true I do love Jeonbuk Motors! 

When first starting out I would read websites, watch videos on my phone etc.  This would often be in the morning whilst laying on the sofa after walking the dogs, and so one morning I went on the sofascore.com to see who was playing, it was the South Korean league that had a few games on. 

I had also recently signed up to inplaytrading.com which is a great site that shows the level of pressure a team is putting on another, and it looked like Jeonbuk where dominating a game.

 I laid under 0.5 FHG’s and backed Jeonbuk on Match Odds.  It was literally minutes before they went 1-0 up! 

Strangely, but obviously due to the full name of Jeonbuk’s team I remember thinking of the saying Jeff Stelling used to say on Soccer Saturday about the welsh team TNS (Total Network Solutions) – “they will be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions tonight after that result!”

I made money on them the following week too, and so since then I just always look out for them, and of course have posted that saying on Twitter. 

My first red on them was literally this weekend just gone, but I still love them!  I bought our new puppy with money I made on them, but didn’t name her Jeonbuk, but instead after a south African cider my girlfriend and I like to drink!

So I have them as my wallpaper due to all the green I’ve made from them. My other screens have a screenshot of my best day profit wise ever, Patrick Mahomes of Kansas city and Max Verstappen – both of whom I admire as sports people, I’ve also been lucky enough to meet Max.

From doing these interviews it is clear that everyone has their struggles with mindset in the beginning. I think we can all relate. Tell me a bit about your early struggles?

I can totally relate. Mindset and discipline has been something that is less of an issue now than the early stages, but still something that needs managing constantly.  Maybe that’s because I am still relatively new.  I have never talked to myself that I recall until I started trading haha but I am often telling myself to remember the laws!

Ultimately, I think it all comes down to planning in one way or another. Plan your trading session, your entry points, your bank management, before entering a trade agree with yourself your exit point, and record the trade and how it could have been improved.  These are all steps I take to stay on the straight and narrow.

Worst trades due to bad discipline or not checking thoroughly would be once losing over £2000 in one horse race where I somehow managed to turn off liability mode and not trade out, and the horse came back and won.  I have also more often than I am happy with in the earlier days backed a team where the value was terrible, as in less than 1.5, they have lost the lead and I hoped it would come back, but it hasn’t. Schoolboy errors. 

It’s as important, as I have learnt, if not more important to accept red than it is take green.

Are you able to reveal a few of the “trading laws” you came up with that really helped you?

Sure, as mentioned they are all planning linked. 

My laws include my bank management/ stake limits.  These vary depending if they are straight trades or scalping for football or liability level for horses. Only trade when there are no distractions such as kids or dogs around, only trade value and only use strategies I have written up in my ‘playbook’.

All simple stuff you are probably thinking, but having notes around me as a visual reminder when in the thick of a trading session has and still does help.

So on a positive note, what has been your most memorable trade so far?

Fortunately there has been quite a few profitable ones, and I remember my first four figure profit days.  Also my one and only 3k+ day, which was only a couple of weeks ago.

 I do enjoy laying under 0.5 FHG after 35 mins if it looks like a goal is coming, whether that be watching the game or using stats.  The profit versus stake make it great value as long as your hit rate is high enough. Low risk, VERY high reward.

My favourite trade though would have to be my first full on System X trade followed by a LTD for when Real Sociedad were playing at home against Granada.  I saw that Sociedad were starting to fight back early in the 2nd half whilst 2-0 down.  I laid Granada at around 1.2, and there was a Sociedad goal almost immediately.  Another followed later to make it 2-2.  I greened up, and then put some of my profit on a LTD around the 80th minute.  Granada re took the lead with just a few minutes left.

 It was a great feeling, I seem to remember tagging you in my Tweet on that one!

So you are doing well with this right now, how long do you see yourself sticking around with sports trading? It sounds like it fits in well with your current lifestyle, any plans to start another business or invest elsewhere?

Yes, I am loving it, and like you say lifestyle and earnings wise it hits the sweet spot.  Watching sport, learning new skills, and refining my approach so it becomes more focused and more consistent.  The only part I can see becoming a chore is the loneliness and missing the banter with work colleagues.

Maybe once the world is more settled I will look to invest into some new start up business(es) and get myself out of the house for a day or two a week, but I would imagine opportunities like that will be a bit thin on the ground for the foreseeable future.

Finally, for anyone reading this who is currently struggling, do you have any advice to give them?

Yes, pick a sport you are interested in and then just try to read and watch as much as you can in order to absorb all of the information that is out there in how to trade that sport.  Then watch how the markets react during that game or race and slowly start to dip your toe in with small stakes on 1 or 2 strategies at first.  A strategy and how you employ it will work with £1 or £1000 stakes, so get the hit rate, entry and exit points right, build your bank then start increasing stakes.

Whilst Twitter can sometimes be a cesspit, there really are some great people on it, willing to help new traders who are polite and showing they really want to learn the mechanics of trading, so be brave and DM a few and ask questions. 

If you want to drop me a message, then that’s fine, I reply to all of them, just bear with me as sometimes there can be a few to get through.

 Anyone that can source me a XXXL Jeonbuk Motors shirt will take precedent though haha

Many thanks for taking the time. I will keep a look out for a Jeonbuk Motors shirt for you

You can follow Steve on Twitter > https://twitter.com/essexsportstra1

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8 Comments

  1. A very good in-depth interview Steve is a top bloke ?

  2. Mick Cunningham says:

    Brilliant article as usual Ben. Very impressive that he’s picked up trading so quickly.

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      Very true, sounds like he put a lot of time in it. But also sounds very level headed so less likely to do anything crazy like chase losses or blow a bank which is a common problem for many when first starting out.

  3. Andrew Pyke says:

    Very good, I’ve taken a lot from that.
    Loved the extract on the ” never pay for courses & never will” brigade. There is no shame in investing in yourself or your future.
    Andrew

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      Well said Andrew!

  4. Good interview loving these Ben, following Steve for a while on Twitter, seems a decent bloke on there and comes across the same in the interview – oh and he’s doing really well too – fair play

  5. Another great interview, keep them coming, very inspirational
    Thanks
    Ben

  6. MICHAEL HOPKINS says:

    Another top class interview with the Essex Trader, Ben.
    I found it very in depth and have taken a lot from it.
    Thanks and keep these interviews coming.
    Cheers.

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