Meet the Bettors

I’ve been each way betting for almost a year now and I’ve learned so much on the journey, not least from discussing and sharing the experience with others. So, I thought it could be interesting to sit down and have a chat with a fellow each way bettor to hear their story.

I am so happy to introduce to you a new series here on Pursue FIRE I’m imaginatively calling ‘Meet the Bettors. To kick off the series I’ve found one willing guinea pig to have a chat with 🙂

Meet The Bettors

I’ve known David (virtually at least) for a number of months as he is an active member of my private each way betting Slack Group. He, like many others, has been fighting the good fight against the bookmakers and making a tidy profit along the way. We recently got chatting and I thought he had a good story to tell and he kindly volunteered to be my pet project for the first in this series.

Over the course of a few days, we chatted back and forth over Slack and I greatly enjoyed the conversation we had. Not just about each way betting, but other topics too. I hope you enjoy reading it 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me David. Why don’t you begin by introducing yourself and telling the readers a little bit about you?

Well hello! I’m David, a 41-year-old living in the commuter belt west of London. My true calling was playing the drums in an indie band but I’ve settled for an IT career because I’ve got mouths to feed (and to be completely honest, we weren’t that good) 😉

I’m married with 2 daughters at primary school, we live in the sleepy suburbs and I’m aiming to achieve financial independence so we can live life on our own terms.

That’s awesome! Speaking of financial independence, when did you first become aware of the so-called FIRE movement. What have been the biggest steps you’ve taken as a result and where would you say you are on the journey?”

I found the concept when I was in my mid-30s, I’d always been a natural saver and had invested spare money, but without any kind of target to aim for, or plan for getting there. I had some kind of vague notion of building up a pot of £100k by the time I was 40 so that I could buy something big and luxurious without really knowing what that should be.

As part of that, I was reading up on the investing side of things and found Monevator, through which I discovered the various FIRE blogs and podcasts that have since become essential reading/listening (including this one).

Happily, I’m now about 80% of the way towards my FI target because our spending is much more focused on things that really matter, and we don’t waste anywhere near as much post-tax income as we used to. The biggest steps I have taken along the way are all about minimising our day-to-day expenses whilst growing income whenever the opportunity arose. For me, that meant things like going from two cars to one (when one of them got written off), becoming a contractor when I was made redundant and growing some additional income streams along the way.

I have since hit my 40s and you’ll be pleased to know I didn’t make the big purchase of some kind of meaningless luxury item – I’m going to buy long-term freedom instead 🙂

Sounds like you have this FIRE thang down David! Excellent work. You mention a number of excellent blogs and resources, many of which were also inspirations for me. Have they inspired you to start a blog in any way?

It’s something I have considered, but writing isn’t something that comes naturally to me (I really admire people who can effortlessly write in long form), plus I’m really busy with everything else going on…

Once I have finished with full-time work I may do a blog that looks at FIRE from the other side – to describe what kinds of things I am doing with the extra time. Keeping some kind of journal may be a good thing to ensure I reflect on the options properly and don’t just drift. I’d be really interested to hear whether you have found the blogging process helpful Dan?

The jury is out on that one David. I’ve blogged for about 10 months so far but, like you, I have a lot going on with a young family, studying outside of work and a high-pressure job. Maybe I’ll write an anniversary post and collect my thoughts on that one. I think post FIRE perspectives will always be especially valuable to those on the journey so I’ll be sure to read the blog if you decide to pursue that idea.

So switching gears a little. How did you first come across each way betting as a potential side earner? Is this the first side hustle of sorts you have tried?

Regular matched betting was my first side hustle, that’s been OK but the inevitable gubbings (bookmaker restrictions) have meant the initial earnings have tailed off. I’ve done some remote consulting on the side, which is lucrative but infrequent and I have also written a mobile app that includes ads, which generates a small monthly income.

I first found out about each way betting through Andy at TheFireStarter and reading the OddsMonkey forum where the method was discussed at length. But it was your blog – particularly the live results page – that showed me how this could be a decent long-term revenue generator 😉

That’s awesome David. I also stumbled across this type of betting via TheFireStarter. I did matched betting a few years ago too. I never got many gubbings but I did find trying to manage 20-30 betting accounts a little cumbersome and time consuming and of course the payout inevitably starts to decrease over time.

It sounds like you have the entrepreneurial spirit to try things out. What does the mobile app do and was this something you had prior experience in? Writing apps?

It’s a health/lifestyle app that is used as a daily reference for people following a particular diet. It’s successful but in a very small niche, so only gets a few hundred downloads a day. I’ve programmed for a long time (from when I got my first computer at age 12), and earlier in my career, I was a Java software developer, but had never done any mobile app development so was quite interesting to learn something new.

The barriers to entry are really low and the tools to get started are readily available for anyone interested in giving it a go. It also makes you think about sales, marketing and promoting your work so it’s not just about the technical stuff.

You need a bit of a thick skin though – some of the 1-star reviews are seriously annoying, it’s typically from people who don’t read the description of the app, just download it and get angry when it doesn’t fit their exact requirement, all this when they get it for free too.

But overall it’s been great – challenging, rewarding and positive in terms of revenue generation. I’m definitely going to write another app, just need to think of an even better idea this time…

Being able to write apps is certainly a great skill set. I’m sure when our kids are grown up they will all be fluent in coding language and the like!

So in terms of each way betting, tell us when you got started, what funds you committed towards it and how you have gotten on since? We’re you a bit dubious about it at the start?

Yes, I certainly was a little dubious at the outset. I only committed a couple of hundred to it, doing 50p each way bets in late summer last year. Things have gone well, my bank has grown to over £2K and now I go up to £10 each way.

I’m still using the mostly gubbed accounts that I started with, adding in a few unrestricted accounts where necessary to ensure I get up to the full stake. This all adds up to more than 2,700 bets placed and my return on investment (ROI) is running at 16.5%. In hindsight, I probably should have started with a larger bank.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing as they say. Still, I think your experience also demonstrates that gubbed accounts still have their use and that it’s not game over when the bookies start to restrict you.

What’s been your general approach to risk management in terms of the rough percentage of the bank you risk per bet or in total for the day? I’m always really interested in the behavioural side of risk management. They say you feel your losses twice as much as you celebrate your wins. I’ve found that to be true in my own experience. Have you had any struggles when dealing with down days even though (technically) it’s all profit you are playing with rather than your own starting capital?

I’ve not really been that structured when it comes to risk management, I’ve tended to increase my stake when it felt right (typically when starting a new month) rather than when the bank had increased to a new threshold.

The variance has definitely been a problem for me, I actually took a couple of months off over the winter when the losses made me question the viability of the whole thing. I was focusing too much on the day-to-day profit/loss rather than looking at long-term returns which remained over 8% even at the lowest point.

Then I saw that several bloggers, including you, were making good money during those weeks I had off, and I realised that I had made a mistake and got back into it. Since then I have tried to be smarter about my approach. In particular, I try to only measure ROI on a rolling previous 30/60/90 day period rather than focusing on today’s results or month-to-date or stuff like that. Whilst I know that I am playing with profits, losing money is still hard, especially since I have tried to be so careful with day-to-day spending.

Rolling ROI
David’s Rolling ROI table – Awesome!

Good points there David. I do tend to think that each way betting is not something you can dip in and out off and expect the same results. As most will know the balance of winning or placing bets to those that lose is skewed negatively (i.e. we should expect the majority of bets to lose – that is typically an okay dynamic as when the winners come they more than offset the losers) but when starting out it can deter people.

As a stat lover myself, I applaud your focus not on the day-to-day swings but on a measure of trailing return (such as ROI). I like the idea of 30/60/90 day look back and that might even help inform risk budgeting. Have you divulged your betting to anyone (friends, family etc) and has that been a challenge to both explain the concept but also provide comfort that you’ve not turned into a gambling addict! I’ve found the minute you mention betting and horses people have (mostly) made their mind up that you have lost your marbles. Only a few are prepared to listen and show an interest. Have you found this to be a similar experience?

Definitely a similar experience. My wife thinks it’s a slippery slope to addiction and risking all our savings, even if I try to explain the method and stats in detail. Even a couple of people I know who do regular matched betting think I’m a bit nuts because they expect to take on (near) zero risk and still make profit every time.

In fact, I haven’t been able to find anyone who is prepared to crunch the numbers in detail and listen to the rationale. I think people who’ve done casino offers are more likely to comfortable with it, due to the common focus on expected value.

Yup – definitely a challenge and I’m highly selective with whom I talk too about it. Even the ones that believe me remain somewhat cautious. So it sounds like you are in this for a while yet David. Do you have a set target (be it in time or profit terms) that you are working towards or are you just seeing where, and for how long, it can go?

No, I don’t have any kind of target, I’m just looking to get out as much as I can from these accounts over the long-term. If I can make £500 in a month I’m happy, it would pay for a nice holiday.

The snag with using gubbed accounts means I’m often stake restricted, so that puts a cap on how much you can make in terms of profit. The only exception to that seems to be when the major racing festivals are on (Cheltenham, Aintree etc.) when major bookies like SkyBet and Bet365 lift the stake restrictions temporarily. Then it’s open season!

In terms of your set up, what’s your approach in terms of screening for bets, placing them and tracking results. Do you use the bookmaker apps on your phone or are you a desktop kind of guy?

I’m mostly doing this on the train and during breaks at work. Dodgy train wifi and the need to keep a low profile means I have to be discreet, so I use my mobile phone to view the each way matcher on OddsMonkey and then place bets using the bookie apps. If I had a choice I would definitely be using a desktop and keeping browser tabs open for the various bookies, plus Google Sheets which I use to track my bets. I just need to avoid morning meetings when the matcher tends to yield plenty of horses to back 😉

Yes, trying to fit this in around the day job can be a challenge! I think you mentioned that you are still (mostly) sticking with bookmakers where you have already got some level of restriction. Is there a reason for that versus opening up new accounts elsewhere?

Now that is a really good question and to be honest I don’t have a great answer, which suggests I need to re-think.

I’ve been plodding on with the existing accounts simply because I’d opened these accounts for regular matched betting. In total, over 3 years, I have accounts with about 40 bookies and 50% of those are gubbed. Perhaps it’s a hangover from that long tail of accounts that has stopped me from getting a clean slate going, simply due to account opening and gubbing fatigue. But it is limiting my profit for sure.

I assumed this relates to your matched betting days – you must have hit that hard to be gubbed across a large number of them, but kudos to you for seeking out every penny you could from that. And, as you eluded to earlier, even on gubbed accounts a pretty respectable figure can still be achieved each way betting.

So, if anyone is reading this and perhaps undecided to give it a try or are sitting on the fence, what top 3 bits of advice or encouragement would you offer them. No doubt you have learned a lot during the process and perhaps made mistakes along the way?

I would say something like…

  • 1. This is a long-term revenue stream, if you are interested you should try it for at least a month
  • 2. You need to experience the variance with real money to see how you will handle it, so start with low stakes
  • 3. Try to focus on long-term stats rather than day-to-day ROI otherwise, the profit & loss swings will drive you nuts

That is great advice David. Well said. Have you ‘realised’ any of your profits yet – i.e. withdrawn some of your winnings and put them to work elsewhere? Perhaps into savings or investments, paying down debts or into the holiday fund? Or are you just rolling everything up until it no longer becomes a profitable endeavour?

In early April I took out half of my profits and put it straight into my ISA, investing it for the long-term. I’m pretty bad at letting the money just sit in bookie accounts but the new tax year made me do something about it.

In my opinion, there is no point letting the money just sit there for the long-term and get eroded by inflation, but equally withdrawing straight after a big win might draw attention. I am fortunate that the day job takes care of our normal expenses, but when I hit FI I want to give that up and use these accounts to pay me a quarterly dividend to provide a bit of fun money (holidays, spending money etc). Just hope it lasts till I get there

A very sensible and well thought out approach there in my opinion. In wrapping up David, I’m always curious to hear what other resources people have found helpful (be it books, websites or blogs, podcasts etc) on their FIRE journey. I keep on meaning to add a resources section to the blog with my personal favourites (there are so many!) Are there any that you particularly recommend people check out?

I’m going to recommend something outside the usual FIRE circles

The Maven Money Podcast is a podcast by Andy Hart, who founded a financial advice business. It’s good to hear from the professionals that Andy interviews, there is no snake oil on sale and it aligns well with the typical approach taken by people on the path to FIRE. But it also covers additional topics related to general financial planning: couples finances, divorce, decisions around buying/leasing cars, investing in shares versus buy-to-let etc. It’s pragmatic, simple and actionable with a focus on long-term wealth creation.

The best bit is that since it’s a UK podcast, there is more reference to ISAs rather than 401k plans 🙂

Yes, I love this podcast too – I’m surprised it’s not more well known as its high quality. In fact, you are the first person I’ve come across that is aware of him. I discovered him about a year ago and he continues to put out great content.

So I’ll think we will end it there David. Thank you so much for chatting with me on all these topics. It has been an absolute pleasure.

Thanks for the opportunity Dan! I’ve really enjoyed it and you’ve given me a few things to think about myself. Keep up the great work!

If you’d like to step into the hot seat and feature in the next post in this series, get in touch at dan@pursuefire.com

Links to those mentioned above are listed here again for your convenience:

Please leave any comments below and join in the conversation and I’ll see you next time!

Dan (and David)

OddsMonkey

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. That picture at the top is terrifying. Where did you find it?!

    Great interview guys! Always interesting to see how different people are supplementing their 9-5 income.

    Hadn’t heard of that podcast before, but I’m always on the lookout for UK-specific things. Thanks for the heads up!

    1. Thanks Dr FIRE – This was the first of possibly a few interview style posts (not all necessarily about betting). Maybe even a podcast one day….. who knows! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Nice article, thanks. Had a horrible few weeks although i havent been able to get lots of bets on. About £600 down using £10 e/w

    1. Hi Alan – yes the second half of May has been rather poor hasn’t it. I think I’m still up about £2k for the month, but that was all earned in the first week of the month. Maybe luckily, I’ve been placing far fewer bets in the last 2 weeks, mainly because of some gubbings and taking too long to get new accounts set-up. Poor runs are common but just try and focus on the long-term numbers, which for most remain exceptional even with the downturns.

  3. Thanks for this interview. It’s reassuring to know that we share the ups and downs at the same time. 2nd and 3rd of May were amazing and a little scary in terms of long-term potential. Then Skybet restricted me to £5 (possibly because £10.50 e/w looks a bit suspicious! Really annoyed with myself for not thinking that through) and I’ve been making a loss since then. I have some other good accounts and can do some m/b to open some more.

    Skybet mention that a change in betting behaviour could see the restriction lifted and that they regularly review restricted users. So maybe it’s not as terminal as I think.

    1. Hi James – restrictions are inevitable I’m afraid – the bookies really don’t like losing money. You can take restrictions as validation that EWB does work. You have to just keep transitioning to new accounts with other bookmakers. It does sting a little bit when you lose access to the big ones. I lost my 365 and William Hill this month which were two of my biggest earning accounts over the last several months 🙁 Keep up the good fight

  4. Great read on ‘David’ and brilliant to hear that he is 80% to his FI target.

    I’m not someone who generally enjoys podcasts but just listened to Maven Money’s episode 106 (88 important truths I’ve learned about life) – excellent stuff, I will be revisiting this regularly to remind myself of these truths! Thanks for highlighting this, Dan.

    1. Thanks Weenie – I listen to quite a variety of finance podcasts but there are not many that are UK-focused and Maven Money is certainly one of the best in that regard. Glad you enjoyed the find

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Hello and welcome to Pursue FIRE. My name is Dan and I am the owner and author of all content on this site. I am passionate about personal finance and look forward to engaging with you.
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