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Oct 28, 2016
Oct 28, 2016

Interview with a professional tennis bettor

Interview with a professional tennis bettor
From slots machines and poker, to stats analysis and tennis betting, the dream came true for Dan Weston, who turned his affinity for gambling into a means of making a living. Read our interview with Dan where he reveals how he profits from tennis betting on a daily basis.

Lets talk about your background first. How did you get started with professional gambling?

I started gambling quite seriously when I was at university, which makes me feel quite old as it was now around 18 years ago! 

At this age, I met a semi-professional fruit machine (slot) player and he was kind enough to share his methods. I spent a lot of time intensely refining these, and making general improvements, and managed to graduate with savings, as opposed to the typical large student debt.

After graduating in Accounting & Finance, I applied to quite a few companies for their graduate schemes, but the competition was very strong. Obviously whilst applying for jobs, I was still playing machines, and I realised I would be significantly better off in the short term at least by gambling full-time. I decided to give myself six months gambling full-time and never looked back.

Gradually I turned my interest to other gambling pursuits and spent some time playing online poker prior to the UIGEA legislation (which had a huge effect on the industry, making it very difficult for US players to deposit/play).  Following this, I turned my attention to sport betting/trading. 

Which markets do you prefer to trade and what software are you using? Do you find more opportunities in pre-game or live betting?

My preference generally is in-play, as there are fewer easily available statistics to the average bettor/trader for in-play data as opposed to pre-match. Because of this, I created my own in-play data and I use this data in the in-play markets, as well as providing this to subscribers.

The legendary @puntdotcom once said that he recommends to keep as much data as you can, on anything that you can. I thoroughly endorse this.

Generally speaking, I trade the match odds markets. There are a few side markets that I’d definitely be interested in with better liquidity as well, but this is frequently not available.

Software wise, I have never really used an API consistently, for several reasons. Firstly, I run a Mac as my main trading PC, and there isn’t much in the way of available software for Macs. There is perhaps a gap in the market for somebody. Secondly, speed isn’t a huge issue for me as I tend to enter/exit during breaks in play, such as the end of games or end of sets.

What bankroll management strategies do you use and what has been your biggest loss?

I found that poker gave me an excellent grounding for bankroll management. In poker, it’s generally accepted that you would require 40-50 full buy-ins to play a certain stake. This equates to 2-2.5% of your bankroll if you were to lose your full stake on that game. This is something that I similarly adopt in trading and my script calculates my stake automatically whilst I am trading, with a built-in maximum loss figure.

With regards to my biggest loss, I try not to dwell on individual match profits/losses much, because they are part and parcel of the game and thinking about them too much is a sub-optimal usage of energy.

How does a typical day of a tennis trader look like?

Good question - it depends on the time zone of the events. So, for example, currently we are in the Asian swing so a day’s play will start at anything from 3-6am UK time.  Given the start times, I’ll prepare the daily trading spreadsheet for each match the evening before, and also then send it to the subscribers of my service. 

Then I’ll try and get an early night if possible, and get up around the 6-630am mark, as I find that the in-play liquidity is quite poor before this time. Then I’ll finalise my script with regards to looking at potential entry points for each match, which takes around 15 minutes, and from then I’ll be looking at opportunities for entering the market.

Life is a bit easier in the European and US seasons, with later daily start times. Typically then I’ll get up a little later and get everything fully prepared that morning in advance of the events.

It’s quite a lonely pursuit, and whilst it’s possible to chat with other traders on Skype or social media, it’s fairly tough to balance chatting and concentration/focus. I think in a short-term ideal world, I’d trade and turn off all other distractions, but looking long-term, most people would probably go insane doing this.

You are known for being a stats based trader. Do you ever use your intuition and if so, how?

A little, I suppose. Deviation off my script is pretty rare and if there was deviation, it would more be focused towards avoiding an entry point as opposed to creating a different one. 

The main area where I’ll use intuition would be compilation of the data in the daily spreadsheet. An example of this would be that I’ll choose to use a different sample size for a certain player than my usual sample, because I feel like the usual sample misrepresents the player’s ability level or chances in the upcoming match.

Speaking of tennis, which new player do you think is worth following?

Daniil Medvedev, a 20 year old from Russia. He’s made ridiculous progress in the last few months and is at a career high ranking of 122 this week, which is less than half of his ranking in June. In his last five Challenger tournaments, he’s made the quarter-finals at least in all, won one, and been runner-up in another. 

Not only are his stats impressive and improving quickly, but he has shown ability across all surfaces, which will do him huge favours for his ranking in the future.  He’s also not defending many ranking points for the first few months of 2017, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make inroads into the top 100 very soon indeed. 

What advice has helped you the most in your tennis trading career?

The legendary @puntdotcom once said in an interview that he recommended to keep as much data as you can, on anything that you can. I thoroughly endorse this.

Finally, what advice would you give to bettors looking to make a living from sports betting?

I would say that having chatted to numerous other bettors or traders who asked me for some advice, many people have huge issues with regards to discipline and bankroll management. The way I see things, you can be the best bettor/trader in the world but you won’t make consistent profits without an ability to manage your money, and unless you can reduce tilt to a level that is low as humanly possible.

You can be the best bettor/trader in the world but you won’t make consistent profits without an ability to manage your money.

Also from a financial basis, make sure that you separate your gambling bankroll from your real-life money. Try to reduce the pressure on your trading by making sure you have sufficient financial real-life backup in the event of bad variance - gambling your mortgage money really isn’t recommended!

If a bettor is doing research with a view to creating a betting strategy, always ensure that if you were to find an edge, you’d be able to monetise it. A good few times in the past I have worked out an edge on the market in a side market, only to find it would either be impossible to get a decent stake on the trade or the market was highly illiquid. Effectively I just wasted my time, so I’d definitely recommend that others avoid similar scenarios.

Finally, on a broader point, I’d look at always ensuring that you have solid reasons for an entry/exit in the market, as opposed to just trading on a whim or feel. I generally find that ‘feel’ traders have a tendency to over-rate their ability in this respect.

So for example, if you lay a player a set when he is a break up in the match, why are you doing it? Are you doing it because the player is a statistically vulnerable front-runner or player with a low projected hold percentage who has blown numerous leading positions in the past, or are you doing it merely because it’s just a low price or you remember a notable event, which could quite possibly be just gambler’s fallacy, when this player lost when leading?

 

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