Self-Improvement in Betting/Trading, and Jamie Vardy

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19th June 2016.

I haven't posted an article for a while, as I've been incredibly busy with trading and running the website, as well as being on holiday for a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd post a slightly different article to normal, and start a bit of a blog as well, which I'll add to whenever I feel that there is something worth writing.

Something I've been thinking about a lot recently is the regrets that it's natural to have when a big edge gets eroded with time into a smaller one.  This isn't necessarily in a trading context - although of course the markets have become more efficient over time - but it's worth considering in a general context.

Because it's not sensitive to my current trading activities, I thought I'd write a little about the regrets that I had throughout my gambling career.  Some of you may know that I started out playing slot machines and also spent some time playing online poker.  I will say now that at their peaks, both of those had bigger edges than betting/trading, and some significantly so.  

Machines, throughout time, have often been referred to by eras.  

So when I first started, there were machines around, with a big edge to a trained eye/skilful player, mainly manufactured by Ace/JPM.  In this era, I had regrets that I wasn't organised enough, and that I spent too much time in a smaller area, without realising the potential of travelling further afield.

Another main era was the Barcrest Era.  This particular era had the potential for heavy profits but also was very competitive, but my main regret focused around my motivation.

Finally, another era was more recent, and is the most sensitive to write about currently (video based machines).  At the beginning, the profit potential was enormous, and my biggest regret was spending too much time looking for machines with huge potential expected value, as opposed to playing all machines which were above borderline expected value.  In essence, too much driving and not enough playing.

You're probably sitting there reading this and thinking, what does this have to do with trading, and in particular, what does this have to do with Jamie Vardy?  Bear with me...

The human psyche, particularly regarding gambling, generally focuses on an attempt to learn from mistakes.  Some of this is unavoidable, as we need to make those mistakes (sometimes money well invested) to generate knowledge which we can use in the future.  However, especially when things are going well, many gamblers/bettors/traders will think life is easy and sit back, disregarding the need to improve or maintain their results.

In essence, edges get smaller or disappear with time.  The time scale on these can be very short term (in a machine context, it could be as little as a few days, or as long as two years) but without further investment into research and exploitation of further angles, it will eventually dissipate with time.  I'm sure many have heard of the hole in one gang, for example.  If not you can read a bit about them here  There was no way this would last forever, but the key is to make hay whilst the sun shines.

The point I'm trying to make is this - if you're doing well, think of the future.  Assume what you are doing has a shelf life.  Make as much money as you can, whilst you can.  Look at other angles which have the potential for exploitation.  Don't wait until it is over before doing this, and don't have any regrets when that day comes.

And so on to Jamie Vardy.  Unless you don't like football, or live under a rock, you'll know about Jamie Vardy's meteoric rise in the football world, from non-league player to Premier League winner and England squad within four years.  Arsenal are interested in signing him, for £20 million.

Jamie Vardy has gone from being a non league player to the England squad in four years...

Recently Vardy was snapped by photographers drinking Red Bull and having a nicotine replacement, and the British media doing what they do best/worst, make a story about it.  

There was an interesting article on the BBC Sport website yesterday, the link for which is here.

Some key quotes from Vardy are worth focusing on.

Regarding not going to the gym - "There is no pressure at all on me to do that here.  They are just happy for me to be doing what I do at club football.  It has worked for me this season and in previous seasons, so I don't see why I should change it now."

About eating - "My diet is not unorthodox.  I just eat like anyone else - that's just how I am.  Everyone is different.  It is just my metabolism that keeps me this slim."

Given the context of my thoughts on regret in the gambling world, and personal experiences mentioned above, and Vardy's rise as a professional football, there's a little comparison that I can draw.

At times in my personal gambling, I felt (and was at the time) invincible.  Nothing could go wrong.  There were occasions where the risk I had was minuscule, and a losing day was almost impossible.  Even saying that, I also said above that I could have done things better which would have improved my profits.

It's pretty reasonable to assume that in a football context, where self-confidence is key, that Vardy's mental state is quite similar.  Could he be an even better player if he went to the gym and ate well?   Could he have scored five more goals this season if he had done so?  Would that have made him a regular starter for England, ahead of Harry Kane?

It's impossible to say, but it will be interesting to see where he is in a couple of years time.  If he gets to 31/32 and loses the yard of pace edge that he has over many defenders currently, he may well have regrets that he didn't eat better, and go to the gym.  

Life, as well as success in gambling, is all about maximising the opportunities available to you at the time.  Don't regret that you didn't do that...

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