For many years I was sceptical of people who claimed to be professional gamblers. To me it just seemed almost incomprehensible that people could make consistent profits day after day, week after week, even with the added convenience of online bookmakers. That was until 2002, when I discovered this relatively new betting company called Betfair, which introduced the completely innovative concept of person to person betting, cutting out the bookmaker completely.
Betfair allows people to place bets anonymously with each other on a whole range of markets., giving you the option to back or lay bets. Therefore you can still back a selection as you would in the normal way with a bookmaker, but you can also lay a selection to lose, effectively playing the role of a bookmaker.
At the time I was struggling financially after losing lots of money from the infamous dot com crash, so almost in desperation I opened an account and deposited £100. Anyway having a keen interest in the financial markets, I started trading the FTSE markets on Betfair and quickly discovered that with a half-decent data feed it was remarkably easy to build up this initial stake. I even started dabbling in some of the other markets such as football and horse racing and after much experimentation and analysis discovered profitable methods of trading these markets as well.
After 6 months, I had managed to build my betting bank upto £5000 from an initial stake of just £100. Furthermore these profits have steadily continued, up until the recent day in 2006, with Betfair trading being my full-time job until recently. Betfair has literally transformed my life and the profits earned have allowed me to buy stakes in two businesses and leave me with no financial worries whatsoever. Ironically these two businesses, that were financed solely by profits from Betfair, now take up most of my time, and therefore I no longer have the time to trade on a daily basis.
How did I achieve these profits? Well I hadn't simply placed bets and hoped they won like the old school professional gamblers claim to. I'd achieved these profits predominantly from trading. This is simply placing a bet at a certain price, and laying it all back, plus a bit extra, at a lower price later on to guarantee a profit whatever the outcome. For example, staking £100 on the daily FTSE finishing up at 1.5 (Betfair uses decimal odds which after you get used to them are a lot easier to use) would return £50 profit if the selection won. Let's say the FTSE moved up slightly and is now 1.39 to back and 1.4 to lay. You could now lay the FTSE up at 1.4 for £107. This would guarantee a profit of around £7 whatever the outcome:
FTSE finishes up: profit = (£email@example.com = £50) - (£firstname.lastname@example.org = £42.80) = £7.20.
FTSE finished down: profit = (£107) - (£100) = £7.00.
Now if you do trades like these many times these profits soon add up. I traded the FTSE markets almost exclusively for nearly 4 years and generated vast profits.
Note you don't have to just back and lay. Laying a low price and backing it back later at a higher price would have the same result. This opens up many opportunities. You could do this in any sport you like.
Let's take an example from the horse racing section of my website to demonstrate this point. When I trade horse racing my sole aim is to find horses whose prices on Betfair are either too high or too low in comparison to the traditional bookmakers prices. I don't care whether they win or not, that's completely irrelevant.
Now the Betfair prices will be more generous than all the bookmakers' prices, but you want to find prices that are significantly higher than these prices, that will come in other time so you can trade out. An example of one such instance on my site is a horse called Ameeq. It was trading at 5.0 on Betfair yet it was trading at between 3.5 and 4.0 at the bookmakers (most were either 3.5 or 3.75). I staked £100 on Ameeq on Betfair at 5.0 which would return £500, £400 of that being profit. About an hour later the price had indeed come in and was now closer to the bookmakers' prices at 4.6 to lay. I therefore layed it back at this price for £108.70 (after doing a quick calculation using the Betfair interface) to guarantee a profit of around £8.70 whether the horse won or lost.
I've been doing trades like this, mainly on the FTSE markets, for nearly 4 years using clearly defined strategies, and although admittedly there have been some occasional losses, over time the profits have been consistent and have far outweighed any losses.
So to answer the original question of whether you can make a living from betting, my answer would most defintiely be yes. I'm living proof of this, and I know many other Betfair traders who are equally adept at generating regular profits from trading. It's not for everyone, you do need a lot of discipline, but it is definitely possible.
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Jim Buccini is a former full-time Betfair trader who has produced a website detailing proven profit-generating tips and strategies. For more information visit www.bfguide.com
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