From Fireman to FIREBALL!
In this edition of Trader Talk, I catch up with UFT member Jon G who has worked his way up to making a second income with his football trading after once feeling like it was impossible.
Not only that but he does this from New Zealand which might be a first for us on the STL blog.
Grab a nice cup of tea, coffee or an ice cold beer and let’s get into it!
Hey Jon Many thanks for sitting down for this interview for the Sports Trading Life readers.
I am very excited to speak with you about this.
But firstly, tell us a bit about what you were doing before football trading came along? Where do you currently live? Sounds like you are in a different time zone? How did that come about?
I am a firefighter by profession and live in New Zealand. I nearly joined the Liverpool fire brigade back when I visited the UK a long time ago, as my mum was from Liverpool, but I didn’t and often wonder where I would be now if I did.
This is my strong link to football because my Grandad played for Everton in the 1920’s and even after he migrated to New Zealand in the 1970’s I still couldn’t take a football off him as he dribbled it around me with a cigarette in his mouth. That was when I fell in love with the beautiful game, even getting up at the dead of night to watch the beloved FA Cup finals on a grainy black and white TV.
These days for my main job, I now manage a small credit union and my days of climbing on fire trucks and rescuing damsels in distress are well and truly over.
Interesting Jon. So how did you discover the world of football trading? What attracted you to it?
I came across football trading about 5 years ago, completely by mistake and funnily enough I had been following greyhounds for a number of years, so the transition to sports betting came quite easily. I wasn’t a big bettor, but just enjoyed the event more than the rewards.
Football trading provided this wonderful mix of watching a sport you love and having a wee dollar or two on the result.
Being a part time website designer, I was always touring the internet for ideas, and naturally started to look at football trading websites. They were fairly variable and I was pretty skeptical, then I came across YouTube videos put out by a certain Ben Michaels, which intrigued me.
The Sports Trading Life videos were professional, informative and, very importantly, prompted me to start to think far more seriously about trading sports, and in particular, the football game I loved. Now I don’t want your readers to think I have been prompted in any way to make these comments, because I haven’t. They are purely my own and I would certainly be very critical of anything that wasn’t offering a great service to potential members.
No worries mate. The check is in the mail ?
How did things progress when you began to dabble in it? Did you see success right away?
Not really, since living in New Zealand, there was one very important obstacle to me pursuing football trading in a much more engaged way, and that was my geographical distance from all the major leagues when games were being played.
However much I wanted to see the games live (and streaming and internet services now make that possible), I wasn’t going to get up every morning at 2am or 3am to watch the big games. So I had a problem, because one of the fundamental principles that I quickly learned from embarking on football trading, was the value of “watching the game”.
So, I not only had to think about how I could do this, but think of adopting different strategies to suit my situation. I also had to think about very different approaches to the skills, strategies and mindsets that I was absorbing from the courses and learnings I was now getting.
The other real challenge that I found was weeding through the considerable array of courses, advice, tipsters, forums and online treasure troves of data that exist now. Whilst we are blessed with this avalanche of information, I fell into the trap of trying to use everything that I could at the same time.
In the end, I revisited all my course material that I worked through from Sports Trading Life, and read and re-read all the manuals that I had printed off. I even watched the videos again several times. I must also acknowledge that there are other very reputable and worthwhile football trading courses and advice out there, but I found that they often provided the same principles that I learned in your videos.
That is interesting. Sounds like it was hard to focus but once you did was when you saw good results. How often do you trade these days?
For the last three years I have been trading around 1-2 hours per day, but that involves a reasonable amount of research, study and investigation. I can tell you that I now make a profit every week from football trading, but it has come about through the school of hard knocks and lessons learned through pain. I manage to sneak in some research and trading when at work, but I am the boss so I can get away with it!
I needed to embark on passive strategies because of my situation, and I needed to assess which leagues I should target where I could view the games and gain the advantage that it can bring. On that basis I was drawn straight away to the Passive Football Profits material, and I would integrate other strategies such as the fireball and snowball concepts into the leagues I could watch such as the South American, Asian or USA leagues.
What happened was probably what happened to everyone. I blew successive banks by remaining disciplined for a period of time, getting frustrated when I had a run of losses, then throwing it all onto some half-baked Serie B game in Brazil where the players decided to have a cup of tea on the half way line and showed no interest in the expectation that they might score goals or even run around much.
We have all been there with those South American matches. It almost feels like they are there to tempt you in and punish you after a bad day.
Would you like to go full time one day?
You betcha, but I used to run marathons and I know that the finish line is 42 kilometers away, so planning not to run before you have got the walking sorted out is one of the many important things you have to learn to do.
That is good to hear. You said you felt it was impossible to be profitable at one point. I think almost everyone thinks this at some point.
What would you say helped you overcome this?
I certainly did Ben, and I was active in a number of trader forums where the folks there all said the same thing. They all expressed frustration with those runs of losses, the unpredictability of a football game, the bizarre way that the impossible could happen and how some folks seemed to have it sorted. I even recall saying aloud to myself one day about a year ago “If Ben was doing this trade they would have scored by now and it would be a cracker green screen!” It took me a long time to understand that to get a green screen you need to deal with quite a few red ones.
Haha, I wish I had that sort of magic touch in the market. We all have to deal with losses.
So how did you turn it around?
Well I wasn’t going to give up because I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I have always been a strategic, big picture person, and one of the important lessons I learned as a fire officer, is when all around you is chaos, you step back, take a couple of deep breaths and take 20 seconds to look at the big picture, so that is exactly what I did.
I went back to basics, and I identified all the key lessons that the heap of resources out there told me.
Firstly, learn, learn and learn, so I went back to the videos, the lessons and the resources I had waded through before. I took time out to think about discipline and accepting losses. I wanted to go back to enjoying watching the games and not clutching my keyboard with frantic tension waiting for a goal that never came.
I came to understand that if you turn it into an ordeal of trying to make a green screen, the fun and pleasure goes, and the wins seem to evaporate.
I learned to accept losses.
Through loss you learn to win and you understand your mistakes. I wasn’t going to be one of those half-wits who would do the same silly thing, week after week.
I also set achievable, small goals, like steps on a marathon. I wrote things down, often writing expletives on the pages when I realized I had repeated the same stupid mistake as last week.
With what you know now, what would you say is the most important attribute you need for football trading?
I cannot emphasise enough that the number one attribute you need in football trading is discipline. Lack of it cost me bank after bank.
Exercising it helps me turn over a small profit. So what does that actually mean? Well for me it meant walking away from a trade that was clearly a loser and not beating myself up about it. A classic recently was where I did a snowball trade, where all my research showed that the two teams playing showed under 2.5 goals in the game with a likelihood of 100%. Yup, you guessed it…. First goal in 4 minutes and the next in 7 minutes.
Months before I would have rampaged around the house demanding drug tests on the players, but this time I did the opposite. He simply said out loud “Ok so these guys are in a goal scoring mood today. Let’s see how many more they get”.
So I cashed out, took the red and enjoyed the rest of the game watching it on Bet365 without any stress.
Boy was that a different experience, and I went into the next trade in a positive mood and recouped the loss straight away.
Good point mate. I think getting to the stage where you can literally laugh at your losses shows a good level of football trading maturity.
Around which point in your journey did you join Ultimate Football Trading and in which ways did that help you?
As I said earlier, I happened upon Ultimate Football Trading a few years ago and I certainly was in two minds about taking the courses, and paying the fees to do them. Our New Zealand dollar doesn’t get us the best value so I had to double the price and then evaluate it on that basis.
So I certainly dithered on joining up for courses, but in the end I liked what I saw and I quickly realized that the courses were full of gems, if you chose to see them.
I also really liked that I could log into my control panel endlessly and re-watch videos and download the notes as many times as I wanted to.
There is also a large range of support products that you and your team produce and some I have purchased and some I have left, not because I didn’t think they were good, but because I simply worked out the exchange value for me, and it didn’t add up.
One that I did grab and have really enjoyed is the Tennis Trend Reports which paid for themselves in no time. I hadn’t traded tennis much but it was certainly a great find for me.
I also have put comments in a number of forums, when appropriate, that said that the courses from Sports Trading Life give you a big knapsack of tools to use. It is how you choose to use those tools that really counts.
If you sign up for a course, expecting a pot of gold to emerge from the mist, you will be pretty damn disappointed.
I found out it takes time, discipline, perseverance and a positive mental attitude to get those tools working.
Very true. I think for many people doing any sort of course is just about finding those one or two golden nuggets which are useful. Some people are very close to cracking it but just need that extra push over the line. And seeing/hearing new things can help with that.
So you said you struggle to get good quality live pictures so you had to take a more passive approach? What are your main strategy approaches?
This is a really good question Ben so I am happy to share what worked and what didn’t.
Like everyone I would grab a strategy, do the obligatory research (often tempered with a fair dose of instinct – big mistake) and launch into trades only to watch them not go as planned.
I made lots of fireball trades, and they provided a lot of good returns, then all of a sudden you would get nailed big time. Later when I looked at them and asked why, it wasn’t the strategy actually. It was the way I applied it and losing discipline. By that I mean not closing the trade when I should. Instead of taking the small green I would hang on for the bigger green. Instead of taking the small red, I would hang on for another goal to get me back to green, only to plunge into a very red result. I did the same with other strategies such as the snowball.
Lots of wonderful trades then undone by ill-discipline.
I did have a really positive experience with the passive trades, because my lack of access to live pictures and the crazy times for me meant it was my best option. Nothing beats waking up on a Sunday morning and looking through the results of the overnight trades. The Value X and the Fireball passive strategies were really fun to do and did give me a reasonable return, which I would then promptly blow on the Argentinian late game on Sunday morning (our time).
But in the last 6 months I decided to take a long, hard look at myself and realised that the key to all this was seeking value.
So let me explain what this actually means.
I knew that the tools that I had been given gave me the skills to research and identify possible results with more certainty than throwing a dart at a dart board of games. So I had a good look at what types of trading would afford me the best value returns on what I had researched.
The answer has turned my results around. It is using the Asian Handicap trading system to take a selection, that I had researched, and applying value to it.
Here is what I mean. Let’s say that your research shows that the Home team has a strong home record. I can apply the “Reback” strategy to this (and indeed it works really well), but if I am confident enough to think that a team can win by one goal, why not increase the value in the event by trading them to win by more than one goal.
The tradeoff is that if they win by one goal you get your money back and if they exceed your expectations, you do far better than you planned. So what I do now is apply the wonderful lessons I had learned in my courses, and find value with them.
I follow a number of tipsters out there, and I also figured that if I put all their tips together, find the ones in common, apply my course learning to them and then place them into the Asian Handicap trading system, I get more positive results than negative. That’s called making a profit! I apply discipline and don’t take it personally if that doesn’t work. I enjoy the game instead.
Finally another strategy that I have molded into a reasonably productive one is backing the under 3.5 goals market, where I select teams after considerable research and they provide me with a strike rate of around 82% so that generates a small but steady profit.
Very interesting approach. It sounds like you have taken the principles and applied them to the angles that you are most comfortable with. I see this a lot since knowing you will stick with a method through thick and thin is crucial.
So what is a silly newbie mistake you initially made that you now cringe about?
Jeepers where do I start with that one!
Without a doubt it was the classic of cashing the green the moment a goal goes in and that is what you expected on something like an over 1.5 goal strategy. All I had to do was wait a few moments and let the market settle, and the number of times a second goal would follow pretty quickly was astounding. Not this idiot. The moment I saw green I would grab it, and never thought to take a deep breath and let everything settle down.
Another newbie mistake I made was to trade on a team by simply using my heart instead of my head. Stupidly trading on a team I was following, or because I had watched some of their games live when I last visited the UK, or my local team in the A-League and I wanted to support them (they are not the best I am afraid and lose more than they win).
The third and very common one was seizing on some comment or tip in a football forum and throwing a trade or two onto the forum selection without even checking it out first. I blindly thought that everyone else had more skill and information than me, so I needed to follow their tips.
It didn’t take me long to realise that they were pretty much at my level anyway and it really was the blind leading the blind. Nice of them to put tips out there, but follow them at your own peril!
Yes very true. Many people seem to seek out Telegram chatrooms and similar but they probably don’t realise they are harming themselves in the long term doing that.
What has been your most memorable football match to trade? Or your biggest profit from a single match? Tell us about that.
It was a mediocre Serie B Brazilian match about 6 months ago, and I had recently worked my way through one of the strategies which involved taking any gains from laying an under goal market, and shifting them onto the next goal market. In this case I had backed some under 4.5 goals market for around 1.10, and put $100 on it, so my liability was $10. I have this learned belief that Brazilian footballers either score goals like mad, or go to sleep for the whole game… there is nothing in between. In fact I even decided to place a further $100 lay on the under 5.5 goals market for around 1.04.
It was during the day for me and I was at work, so headed off to some meetings, then came back expecting the 1-0 result that they generally are, and the score was 3-3 with 20 minutes to go. My eyes popped out of my head realizing that I had just made $200 for a risk of $14.
Those damn Brazilian matches!
You either love them or hate them but that day, I wanted to hug every one of them. Why it was memorable because it was a truly passive profit, where if I had been watching the game I would have been ridding myself of the liability and probably dropping my profits a wee bit in the process.
Sounds like a good one. I think a 3-3 in a Brazilian match is one to tell the grand kids about.
Tell us about your WORST day as a football trader.
It was about 12 months ago and I had religiously kept a disciplined approach to my trading for several weeks, but seemed to be getting nowhere. I was taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps back and I was getting increasingly frustrated with how things were going, day after day.
I kept seeing other traders posting phenomenal green screens on social media and I simply couldn’t understand how their match selections were so much better. So I decided to go all in on my next selections. I broke with my conservative regime and I threw it all in on a couple of quite poor trades. Well you know what happened, and I ended up with 20 cents in my Betfair account.
At that point, I was at possibly the lowest point of my trading career. I felt like I had spent oodles of money, I had completed every course I could find, and I had spent hours and hours on research and selections, and I threw it away in 3 ridiculous trades. I decided that was enough and I was walking away.
My mistakes were simple really.
Firstly I lost my discipline. Secondly I forgot that trading is a long term journey and you have to understand that any journey has challenges along the way, and thirdly I ignored all those lessons and training sessions I had participated in.
On that day I very nearly gave it away. But then I thought about what I had invested in all this, and that getting knocked on your arse is not the end. It is in fact a chance for you to gather your energy, take those deep few breaths, and use that as an opportunity to get wiser and smarter.
Quite a common story and also totally a mental issue that caused it. I always say if you stick to the basic trading rules you will never blow a bank. Blowing a bank is usually done on emotion.
If you could give one tip to newbies, what would it be?
I think my tips are buried in all my responses to your questions Ben. However I would say to them several things. First, what you are going through and what you will experience are not new to you. Sorry to disappoint you on that folks but every trader around you, has and is experiencing the same things.
Second, set up a code of discipline that you stick to. By that I mean know your limitations, know when to close a trade and walk away, know when to suppress your gambling desires (and we all have them), and know when to accept that the green screen you have is a pretty good place to be in at that moment.
Lastly, take all the knowledge, courses, information and expertise around you and distil out the parts that you can understand and relate to best of all. Keep it simple, find what works for you and fine tune it. Don’t jump from strategy to strategy on a whim. Get good at what works for you.
Lastly, enjoy what trading offers. You get to watch a fabulous sport played by craftsmen and make a few dollars on it. What a joy that is!
Finally, what are the future plans? Do you see yourself doing this full time?
My wife and I would like to find ourselves a little villa in Northern Italy and I would spend a fair bit of my time football trading and enjoying the lifestyle there (I haven’t told her about the football trading bit yet).
I know what I need to live on, and if I stick to my discipline and the lessons learned, I can make a living out of trading. Not a fortune, but I don’t need a fortune to enjoy the simple stuff.
I know many of your readers are probably thinking “why does he want to move away from New Zealand?” and that’s a fair question, but being able to watch the top European games in an afternoon instead of 3am in the morning is a real drawcard!
Sounds great mate. I find most people aren’t interested in being “rich” but are interested in living a “rich life” and that actually doesn’t cost as much as you might think.
Anyway, this has been great I think many will get some gems out of this.
I just want to thank you Ben for the opportunity to pass on my experiences and I know that I got an awful lot out of reading some of your previous interviews, so I hope this does the same for others.
I also want to thank you for the excellent quality of the videos and course material you and your team provide. I will say again that you haven’t asked me to say that, it is my genuine opinion. Please keep rolling them out as they are great to listen to and I always learn something out of them.
Many thanks for taking the time!
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