Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Psychology of Trading


+£21.47. Another day of poor racing but hey it's a Tuesday in the middle of December so it's no real surprise to have to try and trade on three shite meetings.

I ventured over into Caans blog and noticed his excellent link to a Mark Douglas video. It really got my juices flowing again and made me realise that I've made scant progress in my mental development since I started this blog, which is obviously quite disappointing. I also turn into a right miserable bastard in the winter months as my missus will no doubt confirm. So when the racing finished super early at 15:30 I fired up YouTube and went in search of porn .... no not really! I searched for Mark Douglas and started by watching the following vid ...

Mark Douglas - Mind Over Market


So in a nutshell what is he saying? Well he's highlighting the fact that professional traders have the ability to execute their trades in a carefree fashion and with no fear as they have developed a proven edge and have pre-determined, and are happy, with their potential risk and reward for any given trade.

Now I still trade seated like this ...


.. as though I'm on red alert and super hyped to react to anything that happens in the market. I mentioned this quite a while back and haven't been able to change. However, the way that I now trade doesn't need me to sit on red alert all day, it needs me to sit in a relaxed fashion and allow me to be more analytical. I think that this is quite a big issue as the red alert kind of approach means that when I enter a trade I'm now in that fight or flight mode which obviously doesn't lend itself to calm, rational thinking. So as from now I'm going to have a much more relaxed posture which should lead to a slightly calmer mindset when I'm trading.

So the relevant issues are:

Knowing your risk before entering a trade - now as I am mostly a backer nowadays I know that my risk is my stake. So I should only ever risk an amount that I'm happy to lose in order to find out if I can make a good trade. At the moment in the win market this amount is usually around the £50-£100 mark per race.

Executing the trades in a stress-free and consistent manner with no fear - if you have accepted that the markets are random and that your potential loss is defined and acceptable then you should be able to execute your trades without worrying whether the trade will be a winner or loser as you know that your edge will put you in profit over time.

Realising that once you have entered the market that you are entirely dependant upon other traders/gamblers to move the market for you - in my short time trading in-running in the win market I have seen some strange market moves which seem to contradict the way that I see the race developing. At the moment I tend to panic somewhat and bail-out with perhaps an over exaggerated red, as opposed to trusting my judgement and maybe increasing my position. Again this is work in progress so we'll see how it goes over the next few weeks.

Jumping the gun or hesitating - if you can achieve that carefree state of mind then you can automatically act upon your signals without jumping in too early in fear of missing a move or hesitating in the fear of being wrong .

Assessing the potential and scaling out and maximizing profit - the potential of being a backer as your first trade is huge as it's potentially possible to back at very high odds and then lay at very low odds in most races. The opposite is true in races where the favourite is a very low price. I do tend to scale-out my winning positions but the method that I currently use maybe needs enhancing as I gain more experience.

Dealing with an unpredictable series of wins/losses - we dont know what the sequence of our wins/losses are going to be so there's no point worrying or getting stressed when we run into the inevitable run of losses.

Dealing with the emotional trauma of always expecting the same thing to happen - well we all know that it doesn't, so we need to accept this fact and get on with it.

It all adds-up to trading in a calm, carefree and focussed state of mind and without fear.

Obviously the key aspect is the willingness to change. I can probably say that I was willing to change when I last visited the subject of the mental approach to trading but I didn't really make a concerted effort to see it through and actually implement the changes. Maybe this time will be different ....

I never knew that Prince was such an excellent guitarist until I saw this ...

While My Guitar Gently Weeps - Prince & Co.


+£83.16. OK. My calm and relaxed state of mind swung into action today. I made sure that I was sitting in a nice relaxed position as I opened up my Betfair, Gruus and Geeks and casually nicked a few quid from the first race. Then the API crashed! Now normally I would have been shouting and swearing at the screen and the incompetence of the Betfair IT staff, but no, not today. I decided to have a nice soak in the bath and forget about trading for 30 minutes.

Rande Howell - Developing a Traders State of Mind

Betfair was still fucked when I jumped out of the bath so I had the opportunity to take a look at my tumble dryer which sounded like it was full of nuts and bolts. Now once again I would have been kicking the shit out of it after two minutes of trying to find the problem, but not today. I ventured down to the garage to get the relevant driver bits and started to dis-assemble the fucker in order to find out why it was making such a racket. I just couldn't find the cause of the problem but then noticed one of the wifes bra underwires sticking out of the back of the drum! Now my missus is a big girl up top so it was a fucking big wire! Put it all back together again and hey presto! It did mean that I missed a few races but at least my pants are now dry!

So once BF came back I sat back and nicked a few quid here and there all the while sitting back nice and relaxed and even humming to myself which seems to be a good way of staying calm.

The Olympics eh? Well we smashed it didn't we? We also had Elbow playing in the closing ceremony and every time I hear this song it reminds me of just what a spectacular event it was, once in a lifetime really, and just how well all of our athletes performed ...

Elbow - One Day Like This

PS I was probably slightly fortunate in the 15:10 @ Lingfield where I spotted Syncopate going well turning from home and I was just about to smash the back button when my eyes were attracted to Rakaan flying home from nowhere. Well it seems like that fucking stupid midget Ross Atkinson who rode Syncopate who actually finished third forgot to weigh-in! Surely for a jockey that's the equivalent of going for s shit and forgetting to pull your trousers down? Fucking cheating thick midgets ....


+£58.49. What a gorgeous day out there today and only two days to go to the shortest day of the year!

It was my mum's birthday today so we all went out to a local curry house and had a great time. The meals ranged from chips, chicken korma, chicken phall and the bhindi bhajee which was especially nice. All washed down with several pints of Kingfisher or in the case of my mum a nice cup of tea.

I found it relatively easy to continue my relaxed approach today and the only time I had my face anywhere close to the screen was when I traded the 5F race @ Southwell where you had to be in and out like greased lightening.

Rande Howell - Mastering Fear

Ballyhollow and the herd/sheep mentaility - so I'm trading the 15:40 & Towcester sitting back in a nice calm and relaxed state and I back Ballyhollow wih McCoy on board as he leads a 2M NHF race at a sensible pace. Now he's lobbing along and going well and his price just takes off and goes from 4.0 to 7.0, and he's still lobbing along in front!

Now I've only backed him for small money but I'm thinking 'fuck this I'm not bailing out for a red as he's still going well'. The price then crashes down at a rapid rate of knots and he wins the race. This is just a classic case of the herd/sheep mentality (mentioned in the above video) that I mentioned a few days ago and in future I'll be trusting my judgement and going in again!

I listen to The Streets every now and then and I just love this video. I can imagine that if my youngest daughter ever gets married then the wedding would be just like this, although I'm not too sure whether I'd be the one doing the punching or the one getting hit ...

The Streets - Blinded By The Lights


-£31.14. The 13:20 at Uttoxeter didn't treat me too well but soldiered on and didn't really let it effect me so wasn't too dissappointed at the end of the day despite the loss.

Took the opportunity to pop down to Canary Wharf to have a drink with the boys from the exchange and we had a good crack. We all agreed that it's still getting harder to make it pay and that it's still the biggest mind-fuck in the history of man. We ended up in The Hilton for a few beers after being in a pub where it was four deep at the bar all night (fuck knows why they didn't have twice as many bar staff as they must have lost a fortune). The Hilton was hosting a company Xmas party and it was good to see untold totty in short skirts, but amazingly I didn't manage to pull (must be losing my touch) and had to stumble back home to the missus.

How To Control Your Emotions When Trading- 1

You can never tell whether or not this girls is gorgeous or a moose but I think that some of her tunes are quite good. I quite like the video as well as it's all done in one take ....

Christine Aguilera - The Voice Within


+£27.74. A pretty unspectacular day..

How To Control Your Emotions When Trading - 2

Just wish I'd made the effort to go and see this guy while he was still with us ...

Gary Moore - Still In Love With You


+£30.13. Another uneventful December day ...

The one and only SRV ...

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood

I have found these psychology videos to be really helpful. I tend to listen to a few in the evening and then have a quick blast just before racing just to focus the mind so that I'm prepared to trade.

How Do Successful and Profitable Traders Think?


OK. It's 12:00, ten minutes to the first race, and I've just had a quick blast of Brett Steenbargar on YouTube so I'm ready for action. I've decided to utilise my bank a bit more efficiently and therefore go in a bit heavier than usual so here we go ...

State of mind: slightly nervous/apprehensive.

+£80.42. Played steadily today and was well focussed. Didn't play as big as I had wanted to but stayed patient and actually turned down a £100+ green in one race as I thought that maybe I was close to landing a four fugure sum and held on a bit too long. Also missed a £40+ green in another race and bailed out way too early in another race where literally a few seconds later I would have been straight into a £100 green as the horse led all the way! So plenty of potential and food for thought. I'll probably go through some more psychology presentations on YouTube this evening in preparation for tomorrow.

 Joe Bonamassa - Sloe Gin

It's 20:43 and I'm about halfway through tomorrows cards and updating my horse notes. It's time consuming and boring as fuck but it has to be done ...

How Winning Traders Think


OK. It's 11:37 and I've pretty much finished my horse notes for this afternoons racing and I'll probably do Wolverhamptons evening card race by race as it's doing my head in!

State of mind: cautiously confident mixed with a bit of apprehension.

+£84.78. Didn't really get into any good positions today and didn't spot any opportunities to go in a bit heavier but took my reds quickly when I had to and played quite steadily. I did have a bit of a scream and shout during the last at Wolves where I backed the favourite when it led only to see the price move against me almost immediately ... doh! Anyway had fuck all to do tonight so had a crack at the evening dog racing.

Trading Psychology Tips - 1


OK. It's 11:02 and I'd be lying if I said that I don't have the thought in my mind that I'd like to win more than yesterday, £100 maybe, and gradually increase my winnings day by day. However, I'm going to erase that from my thoughts and just get on with trading as normal today. So just some time to update some more horse notes before the first race at 11:40 ...

State of mind: confident but wary of getting too confident.

The Psychology Of Trading

+£94.03. Well I did get more than the previous two days but I had some luck on the dogs when Betfair closed the market early and I ended up with a few quid on the winner. In general though the trading was nice and steady again, so I'm happy.

I don't have a clue about who the bloke in the above videos is but he raises some really good points.

There are a zillion great gems of wisdom in the videos that I've posted and what I intend to do is to go through these agin and pick out the key points and compile a list here, kind of like a checklist that I can use each day before trading.


  1. Hi Dave,
    I think that the rules of Mark Douglas apply to Stock Exchange better where you can have a well defined strategy. In-running on Horse-Racing is different because the decisions are made much faster, if any hesitation appears the stake is lost in a second. Knowing the risk before entering the trade is not always possible, sometimes I see an opportunity and place double stake and even if my stake is small I certainly don't want to lose it all. Dealing with an unpredictable series of wins/losses happens only if we make mistakes or not being in the zone. I think you will implement those changes, during the last months you made a great progress. Cheers!

  2. Hi Zerg.

    I think that the points raised by Mark Douglas are applicable to an type of traders. Yep for sure some of our decisions are made much more quickly, especially in-running, but we still have at least one underlying strategy that we have developed and use don't we? Are we looking to back leaders, lay hold-up horses, back strong travelling types, lay dodgy jumpers etc? And at what prices are we looking to lay/back and for what stakes? What are we willing to risk and and what is our potential profit?

    I largely enter the market as a backer so I know that my risk is my stake. I have to accept the fact that in order to realise a potential profit I have to be willing to lose my stake and be comfortable knowing that this WILL happen quite often, as that is the nature of trading. So the risk is always defined, it's the biggest red figure on your Gruss/Geeks as soon as you enter the trade. Your potential is obviously the biggest green figure.

    Yep it's true that we don't WANT to lose our stake but we have to accept that it's going to happen every now and then. Additionally, no matter how well we trade we will occasionally experience losing runs despite executing our trade correctly. One of the main points in the book is that even if we have let's say a 80% strike rate we could still experience a losing run of 5 or 6 races as we never know the exact sequence of wins/losses.

    Anyway thank's for your input it's much appreciated. Do you have a blog that I can follow as I'm always interested in how other traders approach trading.

    Cheers - Dave.

    1. Thanks for adding my blog to your list. I follow yours since 2012 and it's nice to see the progress you made. Happy holidays!

  3. Hi Dave,

    Good posts on here. For me, psychology of trading / mindset, are 95% of any traders chance of success. As you know, I personally have risked / lost large amounts when not being able to accept losses and the gambler in me takes over, nearly always with catastrophic results. This is a result of ridiculously large stakes and losing track of where my experience of profitable edge lays.

    You are so right about doing things in a relaxed manner, it is actually the difference (for me) between being profitable or a big time loser. This last week after reading your blog and also losing another few grand last week by laying a horse in running (you know when you hit lay and then realise you have made a mistake and then the price drops like a stone and of course wins by a short head!!), have gone back to basics, knocked a couple of zeros off my stakes and approached it as calmly as you seem to be doing. Won buttons but the lack of stress is superb. I actually think after this year, that I do not have the dedication or personality make up to trade full time anymore. That is in part due to boredom as being doing it too long (watching poor quality racing day in day out is very uninspiring) and also the relative isolation of trading, but that's another issue entirely!!

    Re Ballyhollow, funnily enough I watched that race and was curious about that price drift. However, when price drifts like that when the horse is out front still travelling on the bridle, sometimes it plays tricks with you, as you then start to think maybe the stable know it is not fit and will blow up at anytime, instead of using your eyes and backing a 3-1 shot at 8-1 on the bit !!!!!!!

    Ascot today, will trade just the two class 1 races, but will get puppy up on the Downs for a couple of hours !!!!!

    Have a great Xmas Dave, be lucky and see you in the New Year for a few beers.

    Best Wishes

    1. Hi Steve.

      I'm probably opposite to yourself Steve as I've always been very risk adverse so I've never really capitalised on the opportunities that I've encountered.

      I understand what you're saying about the dedication and personality. I don't really follow racing as such so that means that every race is pretty much the same to me! I know that you obviously know lots about racing so I can see why you would get pissed-off watching the majority of racing which is fairly low class mediocre stuff.

      Re Ballyhollow it just proves that you have to use your eyes and not fall into that trap of second guessing, At least that way you can keep your methodology consistent.

      Anyway thanks for all of the comments and emails this year Steve they have certainly kept me interested in the game and it's always good to hear your points of view and hear how you're doing.

      Have a great Xmas and New Year and yep we'll have those beers!

      Cheers - Dave.

  4. Hi Again Dave - glad you seem to be doing well.

    I've been watching those psychology oriented videos and a few other on Youtube recently. Currently, I think I need it, as I had my worst result in a single race for years yesterday - a bank crippling loss.

    I layed a horse that continued to shorten and fell for the averaging trap (overstaking) way too much, went with all the red into the race, and you can guess the rest....finger hovering over the back button while the price got shorter until I realised I'd let it all run, and the horse bolted home.

    Today, I've taken stock of many things (including whether to continue). But I know I lost what was mostly in fact profits I'd built over the last 3 or 4 months, so cracking on.

    But these sort of days, you need to check the psychology - I got caught out feeling like a trapped sheep yesterday I reckon!

    All the best to you today and onward - I'll be playing small today.

    1. Hi Stu.

      Sorry to hear about that bad financial loss Stu. I tend to be backer as my entry point, usually for around £50, as the loss is just your stake so you don't get to see any huge reds hovering about which happens if you lay first. It also means that if I go in again if the price lengthens then I'm only risking maybe an extra £20 on top of my original £50.

      Good to see you are cracking on. It's a hard game to get to grips with so perseverance is the key. As I mentioned I'm revisiting the pyschology side of things as this is definitely the key to becoming more successful and consistent and less stressed.

      Anyway here's hoping you get back in the swing of things and have a good Xmas and New Year.

      Cheers - Dave.

  5. Hi Stu...sorry to hear about losing your bank yesterday. All I can say is that you need to take the positive from it, learn from it and onwards and upwards. I speak from experience as have done serious money and that was purely down to mindset / psychology being wrong, not being able to accept a £10 red that turns into a 2 grand loss.

    Get back to basics, trade small, WITHOUT stress and as you obviously have an edge, just play to your strengths. From speaking to a few full time traders, mindset seems to be the key to being a long term winner or a long term loser.

    Good luck to you mate and have a good Xmas all.


  6. Thanks for the replies Dave and Steve - I think you are both spot on there.

    Just to say that I traded fairly small today and came out with a small profit. I'm aiming to gradually get back on the treadmill, like you say. Guess we've all been there at points in our betting/trading careers.

    At least it does emphasise the point that us guys need to get our psychology sorted as a fundamental.

    Hope you guys have a good Xmas period, and onto the new year with a good outlook.

    All the best,

  7. Hi Dave,

    Great and interesting blog here!

    I just have a quick question as I'm pretty new to this, but what kind of stakes would you recommend using at the start? And what type of stakes do you bet with?

    Thanks and keep up the blogging!

  8. Hi Matty.

    I'd suggest using minimum stakes (£2) until you have found a strategy that works.

    Are you going to trade pre-race or in-running?

    Cheers - Dave.

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