Becoming a professional Betfair trader is the ultimate dream for many, whether it be football trading, tennis, horse racing or a bit of everything.
It's certainly achievable - there are Goal Profits members doing it right now - but how do you go from frustrated gambler to trading football for a living?
In this article I'll (hopefully) answer all of your questions. I'll talk about expectations and motivation, what a sports trader does day to day, what you can look forward to as a full-time football trader and how to actually get there.
What are Your Expectations?
I really hope that this doesn't come as a surprise to you, but... you will never be able to buy a few trading strategies, quit your job and then start to pull money out of the betting exchanges the next morning. They are not magical ATMs and it is not possible to find systems which "unlock the secrets of Betfair for five minutes work each week".
If you have searched for something like, "how to make money on Betfair fast" or the "easiest way to make money betting" you have to change your mindset considerably before you can even think about sports trading for a living.
After all, the only thing you can do fast on Betfair is blow your bank!
Another thing... while it's possible to learn the fundamentals, you can only become an experienced trader by actually trading. It sounds painfully obvious when put like that, but you wouldn't believe the number of people who start trading and immediately expect to make money.
I mean... how could that even be possible?
Think about it... Betfair is full of very clever and ruthless traders whose sole intention is to take your money. What makes anyone think that they are going to outsmart these other, more experienced people when they log in to Betfair for the first time?
Kevin Laverick played and managed football for many years at a decent level, but he soon found out that all of his sports knowledge wasn't enough to get him very far. Trading is all about risk/reward, probabilities, discipline, patience and so on.
So... from day one, make sure that your expectations are reasonable and realistic; becoming a professional sports trader is going to take time and hard work.
Why Do You Want to Trade for a Living?
Ask yourself... why does trading on Betfair for a living appeal so much?
If it's because you want to impress your mates down the pub, you're going to struggle to remain motivated when the going gets tough. If you dream of laying on a desert island and logging into Betfair every now and again to top up your bank account, you're living in a fantasy world.
So why are you reading this article?
There are lots of emotions which drive our motivations; love and hate perhaps being the strongest. Why do you want to make money on Betfair? What is going to keep you focused and drive you forward?
Here are some examples:
What are your motivations?
Focus more on the positives than the negatives; your hopes and dreams rather than fears. Positive emotions are stronger and longer lasting. After all, you will love your family long after you've left the job you hate.
The more motivations you can find, the better. When trading seems difficult - or even impossible - you will refer back to your list, re-focus, clear your head and try again. Without strong motivation, you are far more likely to quit and that doesn't get you anywhere.
Do Football Traders Need to Watch Matches?
If you think - or hope - that football traders sit in front of the TV all day watching football, you're going to be disappointed!
I can't remember the last time I watched a match while trading; it's just not necessary. Also, a football match is 90 minutes long and I have better things to do with that time. You probably do too.
I do know of some traders who watch football matches and even a few who believe that they can "read a game" but the vast majority can't do that. The simple truth is that most men think they're above average drivers and that their football knowledge is enough to make money on Betfair. In the majority of cases, neither of those are true!
I make trading decisions based on the stats (facts) than what I have seen on the pitch (opinion). Thanks to the Live Stats Module at Goal Profits I can log in at any time, see the entire in-play history of a match and make logical decisions. It gives me a massive advantage over every other trader on Betfair.
Of course, everyone is different and if you prefer to watch matches as you trade, you can absolutely do that.
How do Pro Traders Trade Football?
Football trading is more about maths and probability than it is about football. It will be much more useful for you to know the probability of a first half goal than it will be to know whether the star striker is playing or not. Yes, team news can present pre-match trading opportunities, but in the main you will be looking at the numbers.
While it's impossible to predict the future, it is possible to find consistent teams doing consistent things. Once you match two such teams up against each other and find an angle within the game itself - perhaps the first half - you just need to make sure there's adequate risk/reward.
From there, it doesn't really matter too much whether that particular trade wins or loses. You know that you will end up with a profit long-term and that your bank will grow over time.
Of course, that's a very simplified explanation and a lot of experience goes into each stage but I'm sure you get the idea.
All Goal Profits members receive full access to our 16-part 'Launchpad' football trading course which explains how to build a personal portfolio of football trading strategies, how to select matches, when to enter and exit trades, how to manage your trading bank and so on.
What Size Bank do you Need to Trade Full-Time?
Before you first opened your Betfair account and started trading, you probably had a full-time job. You know what salary you earned and whether it was enough to make life comfortable for you and your family.
That's a great starting point for calculating the size of betting bank you are going to need to trade full-time.
Other things you need to know are the edge you think you have and how much trading you can actually do.
Let's assume that you plan to split your bank into 100 points and that you will risk 1 point (1% of your bank) on each trade.
We'll also assume that you think you have a 5% edge, that you plan to find 100 trades per month and that you would like to earn £20,000 annually as that's what you used to take home from your job after tax.
Therefore, with a bank of £33,300 you would expect to make your annual profit target of £20,000 (tax-free).
Of course, if you alter the figures then the required bank size will rise and fall accordingly. Also, as you gain trading experience, you will adjust stake sizes according to your confidence in each trade and, perhaps, get involved in more trades.
While £33,300 might seem like a large amount of money, it's much more achievable than you may think. For example, if you start trading today with a £1,000 bank and make 10 points profit per month, in just three years your bank will be £30,000.
Full-time trading is not as impossible as many assume it to be, you just need to want it enough and patiently grow your bank over time.
When Trading Becomes Your Job
Like any job, trading Betfair for a living has good and bad points. Personally, I think that there are far more positives!
Perhaps the best part is being able to work from home. There's no commute and no traffic to worry about; your alarm goes off in the morning, you switch the coffee machine on and get to work.
Bear in mind though that you won't have a boss peering over your shoulder and you will have to motivate yourself. Getting up at 10am and then watching daytime TV for a few hours will make you exactly £0.00 profit.
There are lots of ways to self-motivate in order to get tasks done, but money shouldn't be one of them. If you start to worry about paying bills, you're going to fall into the trap of entering weak trades in order to try and hit targets.
What works for me is making a list of tasks and then doing them in the order that they're written down. If I do the easy stuff first, I'm left with the harder tasks and I'm more likely to procrastinate.
I also find that working overnight helps. As well as keeping track of fixtures in North and South America, I can plough through my to-do list without being bombarded by emails. That might not suit you though, especially if you have a family.
A Betfair trader does not have the security of a salary, does not enjoy holiday pay or sick pay when 'man flu' hits. However, if you're making more money than you were in your old job then you can afford to save more - and you should save as much as you can to build your financial security.
Although you can sit in front of the TV with your laptop on your knees, you will be far more productive if you have a dedicated work space. Shut yourself away, work through your to-do list and then relax in front of the TV once you're done.
There are certainly times when I trade while watching TV, but I will have already done my research on the games and I can hit 'pause' if I need to concentrate for a few minutes.
Explain to your partner that, when Flashscores lets out a cheer for a goal, it's time for you to work. Even if it's just for a few seconds, you need some peace and quiet in order to check trading positions. It really helps when your partner knows what that noise means!
Health is Wealth!
Health is something which most new traders don't even consider. You will be spending a lot of time at your desk rather than walking to work, wandering around the office, unloading a delivery van, or whatever it was that used to get your body moving.
Therefore, you must dedicate time to your health and wellbeing.
Here are some health tips:
In other words, move about and burn some calories!
And on the subject of calories... watch what you eat. It's very easy to sit at your desk all day and snack, so don't keep a bag of toffees in your top drawer! Just as with trading itself, be disciplined.
Remember... healthy body, healthy mind.
Daily Routine of a Trader
Professional Betfair traders are essentially self-employed and have to motivate themselves accordingly. I find that getting into a daily routine helps enormously, so I set myself lists of tasks which need to be done.
For example, most of my preparation for the upcoming weekend is done on a Wednesday and Thursday, then Friday evenings provide a number of excellent trading opportunities. I mainly concentrate on French Ligue 2 and the Dutch Eerste Divisie during the winter season.
Saturday is the busiest day of the week for fixtures. I usually monitor the top four English divisions and German Bundesliga fixtures during the afternoon, then Dutch, French and Swiss matches in the evening. It's very easy for discipline to slip when there are lots of games in-play, but with my research done ahead of time I have a strong shortlist to work with.
Sundays are generally quieter, but there are usually Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swiss matches to keep an eye on.
I only trade on Monday and Tuesday when there are particular games of interest. Often, I am mentally drained after a hectic weekend and so Monday is a chance to relax and go over my results.
I tend to ignore cup games and internationals completely. There are already more than enough league games played all over the world and they suit my trading style perfectly (consistent teams doing consistent things).
The rest of my time is spent developing and testing systems plus, of course, supporting Goal Profits members.
Research and Analysis
In my early trading days, I manually updated stats spreadsheets every day because no website provided all the trading stats necessary (and I still haven't found a single one which does). I would regularly clock up 80+ hours per week in order to get it all done - and that was before I'd even managed to trade a single match!
Thankfully, the Team Stats software at Goal Profits takes most of that time consuming admin work away and I simply couldn't manage without it these days. Rather than limited stats over a small number of leagues, I have every number I could ever dream of for more than 65 leagues worldwide.
On top of that, league table analysis is done for me and in-play stats are logged while matches are played. I now spend less time researching trades, but I am able to dig into the numbers in much more detail. Doing this has transformed my trading results and given me much more time to develop other trading angles.
Stats are the tools of the trade (no pun intended!) and only the best will ever be good enough.
I would say that 90% of my time nowadays is spent carrying out research, while the other 10% is spent trading. I analyse upcoming fixtures in order to identify trading angles, test new systems and, of course, I monitor existing systems to ensure that they are still profitable.
It's certainly not a case of building a portfolio of trading systems and then trading for the next 20 years. Betfair markets are constantly evolving and traders must move with them - or fail. You cannot buy a few football trading strategies and then sit back expecting them to work time after time. Trading is hard work!
When you start working towards trading for a living, make sure to allocate a good proportion of your time to system research and analysis (or subscribe to Goal Profits which does it for you).
How to Become a Football Trader
Ok... so you've decided that you really want to become a pro trader and you've identified strong motivations which are going to be your fuel.
Now, you need a plan... exactly how are you going to make this happen?
Proof of Concept
Unless you're crazy, you're not going to quit your job before learning how to trade and proving that you have the experience and discipline to make a long-term profit. So the first stage is to show that you can do it. You might not need to prove it to your partner too, if he or she isn't sure!
It is very difficult to put a time-frame on this part so you're going to have to be flexible. Aim for an absolute minimum of six profitable months in a row - preferably more - in order to prove to yourself (and your partner) that you're ready.
And be honest with yourself... this isn't a bragging contest so be sure to record results properly.
This is the stage at which quitters quit, usually picking out a poor excuse to explain why it's 'not their fault'. "I don't have time" is the most common, followed by "I'm too busy at work". Both of those are absolute rubbish. If you want it enough, you find a way - same as anything in life.
Hardly anyone quits after the 'proof' stage; after this it's just a matter of time.
Once you've proven to yourself that you are disciplined and skilled enough to trade profitably over a good amount of time, decide how you're going to make the transition from 'worker' to 'trader'.
You could, of course, just quit your job and immediately dedicate all of your time to football trading. A handful of Goal Profits members have done that, but it's a very aggressive approach and not something I'd be comfortable with myself.
A better way is to save up until you have enough to cover your bills for the next six months (minimum). There are two big benefits to this method:
- Your trading decisions will not be under pressure from day one
- All the profit you make for the next six months (or more) will strengthen your trading bank
My recommendation is to transition gradually from full-time working to part-time working/trading, then from part-time working/trading to full-time trading. This can be done over many months so that you do not put yourself under pressure.
You may even be able to stay with your current employer and gradually cut hours or, if getting out of that job is one of your motivations, look for something else.
It's likely to be quite a change for you - and your family - when you become a full-time trader.
You will be spending much more time at home and that takes some adjustment. After all, a bit of space tends to be good for relationships. You will also have a completely new routine to settle into; including your new health regime!
You're also going to view money differently. Whereas before it would magically arrive in your bank account every month on payday, that won't be the case any longer. You will be working for every penny you make and that is likely to make you very protective of it!
This one really does take time to adjust to and it's why I recommend going part-time first; it's much easier to make these changes and get used to them before you're 'all in'.
You may even find yourself in the same position as a number of Goal Profits members who have started the transition and stuck at part-time because they enjoy it so much.
They still get out of the house to work - though it's far less stressful - then they get the enjoyment of trading too. Best of both worlds!
If trading turns out not to be all you dreamed of, then you can always go back to work again... but I bet you don't!
Put Your Plan into Action
Trading isn't easy, otherwise no-one would go to work on a Monday morning. It is more about mindset than it is systems and strategies, and that takes time to develop. There are no shortcuts!
You will see Betfair trading courses and books advertised which promise that you'll learn enough to start making a profit right away. Rubbish. They can teach you the mechanics of trading, but without the necessary experience and mindset, you're not going to get very far.
Rather than spend £1,000 on a one day seminar, you'd be better off paying up front for three years of Goal Profits membership. Seriously... you would learn a lot more, gain a ton of experience and - if you're like most members - you would make a profit on top.
The harsh reality is that the vast majority who set out to become full-time traders will not succeed. Many will quit because they are too lazy and thought it was all glamour and riches, while others simply don't want it enough.
Those who do succeed will often settle for trading part-time - and that's a great place to be. You can earn a significant amount from your trading which will pay for a few luxuries in life or help build a retirement fund.
The only certainty is that everyone is different. Decide what you want and GO FOR IT!
Jonny has become a full-time trader, thanks to Team Stats and the Goal Profits football trading community. It's no longer a dream for him, or for others who are enjoying their new career!