Giving up my career to be a full time Betfair trader – Lessons I learnt


so the start of the year is when people
typically do reflective videos you know what happened in 2019 what’s gonna
happen in 2020 but I thought I would wind back a bit further and give you the
story about how I started and some of the key decisions that I made about
breaking away from a conventional career to go and trade on Betfair full-time
it’s not something that many people do or make a success let alone for 20 years
so I thought it was worth sharing the story of the biggest gamble of my life
and there is an element of that which I haven’t told before which is indeed a
huge gamble so let’s go and find out what that was
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as they’re released so you know 2020 it marks 20 years in the markets for me
it’s incredible that I’ve been doing this for 20 years it doesn’t seem
possible that that was the case and it’s funny because I think hidden within all
of that will tell you something about my motivations and desire but it’s worth
sort of winding it back really to look at all of the things that led up to that
particular moment in time and also you know the biggest gamble that I took
which is a bit of a surprise when you hear about it because it isn’t something
that I would recommend that you do but in fact everything works out just fine
anyhow but we should tell the story of that but really I think my story goes
all the way back to when I was very young so didn’t have any sort of
background to speak of I used to spend all of my time at school playing
football if it was dry outside or blackjack or poker and if it was wet we
would go into I’m try to remember which room was the music room that was it
blimey that that came out like a bolt from the blue from the past we used to
sit in the music room and play cards basically and that was probably my best
academic achievement because most of the others
weren’t that special I’m not at that time of my life anyway but um you know I
didn’t come from any you know particularly well-off background there
was no social mobility my family that I could ever remember and it was really
just a dull and uninteresting start in life now it could be perfectly possible
but at that point I just decided to continue on that path took the easy road
and decided that I would just get by and make do with what I had what I was given
but for some reason and maybe it was that start in life that motivated me I
just wanted better and I forever had this feeling that there was something
bigger for me out there that I wanted to achieve for all of
those things I remember when I was young writing down a list of all the things I
would love to do and one of the greatest pleasures in my life is going out and
doing those I still remember from when I was in my early teens all of these great
places I wanted to go people I wanted to mean things that I wanted to do and to
be able to do those is just incredible if I died tomorrow I wouldn’t be
particularly happy about that but I would I would be able to say that I’ve
had a pretty good life and therefore you know I wouldn’t be too unhappy because I
have achieved a lot of those things that I just thought were impossible when I
was younger but that desire to do better was sort of set during that period and I
imagine it may be slightly different for different people because I think if
you’re handed stuff on a plate you may just not have that passion and desire
and maybe you need something like that to be able to say to yourself you know
what this isn’t good enough I am gonna make a better life of of it but yeah
from from quite young I was determined to do that I actually you know there was
lots of little things that I did know I’m gonna talking about them in great
jets because should do that one my other video but I did it when I was young to
try and sort of better myself and you know some of those things that I did you
look back at that and used to realize that that was an early incarnation of
what you do now but you also realized just how sort of naive
you were when you’re just that little bit younger and that experience is an
important part of that particular journey as well but also if you can get
yourself a mentor or somebody that can give you some guidance somebody that’s
been through it before that’s hugely beneficial because you need to trust
them they don’t need to have an ulterior motive you need to go to somebody that
will give you good honest advice and that’s my first tip for you on this
video is you know find a good mentor somebody that you can talk to honestly
that is their level that is operating much higher than you but is willing to
give you advice and I mean this is part of the reason that I do videos is I’ve
gone from a long journey I’ve been there done it all seen it got the t-shirt and
it’s nice to be able to share that and to be able to sort of motivate people
for their own reasons but it’s important that you do do it for your own reasons
as well so everybody is different they have different life experiences your
life experiences define your beliefs and your beliefs guide you so my life
experiences and beliefs may be slightly different from yours but nonetheless I
want to give you some broad guidance in terms of things that I think are
important that you should follow whatever path you choose to go down I’m
not going to say that it’s going to be better trading it could be anything that
you do it’s important that you have some sort of level of guidance and direction
in which she wants to find so yeah first tip is um you know speak to people that
have been through it all before most people that are genuine will be happy to
give you a little bit of ice they may not have all of the time in the world
but just take a little bits of advice that they give you and go from there so
when I decided that I needed to move on and do another thing I went to somebody
who was able to do that for me he was much older than me I say much older he
won’t thank me for saying that he was older than me he’d been through it
before that’s what I’m trying to say and he basically would give me little
snippets of wisdom and they were invaluable to me and the snippet of
wisdom he gave me about leaving my conventional career was he said hey
Peter you only regret the things you never did and that was the thing that
actually tipped me that made me do it because I sent there and thought about
it and thinking you know you’re absolutely
right because if I don’t do this I’ll never know what could have happened and
they’ll be wondering about it for the rest of my life but if I do do it and it
works fantastic and if I do do it and it fails at least I can say that I did it
so you know leveraging off of other people’s experience is a great way of
shortcutting your way forward because when I was young I didn’t have any
gardens I had to do it all myself it was incredibly hard work when you’re trying
to find advice and go in the right direction but you know that creates this
level of ambiguity and uncertainty that it’s difficult to cope with and that
slows you down gets you making bad decisions and you know when I started
going out and doing things on my own when I sort of came of age when I turned
18 I began to realize actually the world was a different place from the one that
I grew up in and that’s pretty obvious really but in terms of the context in
which I’m putting it in when you’re in a career when you’re working for
corporation or when you’re reliant upon your family to put a roof over your head
and stuff like that you have to work by their rules you can’t make up rules you
can’t do anything and you get punished if you don’t work by those rules so
getting yourself out of that scenario freeze yourself up to stand on your own
two feet to do your own things and to live and die by your own decisions and I
and that’s critically important because one of the things that I learned was
that people don’t share the same motivation or incentives as you so if
you work for a corporation they want you to do certain things they wouldn’t want
you to leave that corporation if they think they can get away with paying you
a reasonable amount of money and you doing a decent job for them but you know
if you say to them um thinking you’re doing something else then they’re
obviously going to constrain you or try and constrain you within that particular
model and it’s the same with families and relationships and stuff that you do
don’t get yourself stuck in a rut never believe that there isn’t a better thing
out there for you because there probably is but if you ask for a lot of people’s
advice they won’t tell you that because it’s not in their interests to do so so
my second piece of advice to you is don’t be afraid to take risks and step
it’s and jumps outside of your particular world because
what you won’t realize is that you’re cocooned in to a certain mode of
behavior and that motive behavior is being dictated to you when in fact
that’s probably a lot more potential inside of you
and it took me several big steps to be able to realize that you know leaving my
household home was a big step that opened my eyes to the world but also
leaving a normal career opened my eyes even wider and made me wonder why I
never did it before so yeah it’s important that you understand that
people will tell you stuff from their objective and that’s why it’s important
to get a mentor or somebody that will talk to you to tell you the good and the
bad they’re blunt with you and tell it to you as it is that’s the most
important thing you don’t want somebody trying to manipulate your
decision-making process to suit them so yeah always bear that in mind and take
advice but be careful of who you take it from it’s better to take it through
somebody that’s been through it before it’s one of my motivations for doing
videos I want to tell you what my life experiences I realize that yours is
going to be slightly different from mine but nonetheless I can tell you what
happened and you can take on board some of those key points within your own
context and I would say to you make sure you take it on with your own context so
yeah I’ve worked my way up but you know I’d always wanted to do a better job you
know the very first job I ever had I don’t know if I’ve ever said this
before was working in a petrol station there you go I did that at college and
when I stepped outside of of college and when in needed to get a job but
basically did pay my way that was the first thing that I did because I knew
how to do it and it was quite simple for me to do and it would give me somewhere
to base myself well I tried to look for a real job as it were but you know that
was where I started but from that point onwards I then moved on and into the
technology sector and then gradually built my career from around there but
one of the things that I did was I always had this feeling that the only
way that anything was ever going to happen was if I did it and I made my own
path through it I don’t want to be reliant upon anybody whether it be a
corporation or some benefactor I just thought I’m going to do this my own way
I’m going to make my own path so typically I would work for company
but I had to change jobs quite a few times because I figured out that was the
only way I could progress quickly enough if I changed roles and moved into
different roles to get more experience in different places and become a good
all-rounder and I sort of quite enjoyed that for a while and when I started
traveling a bit kind of through Europe or to the US and stuff like that as I
rose up to more senior roles I enjoyed that even more and I really
enjoyed traveling I really got bitten by the bug but eventually I reached the
point in my career where I figured out there was no hire that I could go there
you know you were a senior manager or you had some sort of senior
responsibilities and above you was the board but in order to get to board level
it would take a lot of time effort and it was a whole different ball game
really and especially being in the technology industry I realized that you
know there were loads of opportunities coming up all the time new technologies
new ideas new models that were basically propelling the industry forward and many
times I’d absolutely nailed that I’ve got that absolutely right but I’ve done
nothing about it maybe I’ve worked for a company that was involved in that sector
but even then you won’t guaranteed of success so you know I’ve seen these
things come and go and I eventually reached this point in my career where I
was thinking well you know every year is looking the same for me it’s like well
done Peter on last year we next year we want the same but 10% more and you also
felt at the mercy of the commercial world you know if there was a bad year
then you’d probably get laid off now the fact is I never was laid off but you
know you always felt like that was hanging over your necks they had all the
responsibility and you did get paid pretty well my wage back in 2000 was you
know pretty high for any industry at that particular moment in time but I
didn’t feel like you know I was getting that much satisfaction out of it simply
because it was very similar my enthusiasm was starting to wane and I
was sort of thinking you know can I do this to the rest of my life and the
answer was basically no I couldn’t the problem when you reach that stage is
that your performance starts to drop off and you know it’s you’re going nowhere
at that particular point my enthusiasm just wasn’t there I remember watching
the Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford where he’s saying if you get up
in the morning and you look at the mirror and you’re sort of thinking why
am I doing this then it’s probably time to move on and I was increasingly
getting that feeling but for quite a few years what I’ve done is I’ve saved up
money carefully partitioned it off and skipped the odds luxury not taking the
old holiday or you know been a little bit cheap I suppose for one of a better
word to build up that war chest ready for the time when I was going to go off
and do something but you know there were other things happening as well I got
married started a family and then I suddenly found myself with three
children but it’s sort of towards the end of my normal career but I had
reached that stage where I had to do something about it because I think if I
don’t do it now I probably never will and who knows you know there’s some
options so people were saying to me well you know what what are you thinking
about what you’re going to do and I’ve been looking and working with in
financial markets on the side on top of my normal job and that was where I
thought probably I was going to go and that was when I discovered Betfair and I
realized that things had sort of reached a peak in terms of my activity and
interest on Betfair when there was a meeting that we had at work and after
the meeting the managing director called me over and he sort of said what were
you doing in that meeting Peter and it’s like what do you mean in his going well
what we what was on your laptop and in fact what was on my laptop was a Betfair
position that was trying to close because I only had a small window left
to close the position and it just happened to coincide with the painting
so I took my laptop in and exited my position and at that point I was
thinking well you got to make a decision here are you gonna do this seriously or
are you going to continue with your normal career because I figured out that
probably you know everything was pointing towards going to to do
something for myself but the problem that I had was I had a mortgage I had
three children and Betfair was very small so when I decided to sort of make
that jump I consulted you know the people have talked about earlier in this
video and asked them what opinion was and they base you said yeah
go for it you know you should do it because you know it’s it’s at the time
you know if you feel that that’s where your passion is then you should probably
go and do something about it but I’ve got to point out here that my passion
was not Betfair at that particular moment I’m I did have an interest in it
but my passion was in doing something for myself and making my life better by
going out and doing something but at that stage in time I didn’t specifically
know if for example Betfair was going to work out you know if anything could work
out because Betfair was still absolutely tiny back then there wasn’t the
liquidity I didn’t know if anybody else was doing it for example there was you
know it just it was the it was barren there was nothing there so when I did
make that jump there are a couple of things that I did but one of them was
before leaving my prior career ivory mortgaged my house and and that sounds
crazy now so we’re not talking about remortgage in
my house so I could stick 20 grand on some Hampton to win a match because that
would be stupid wouldn’t it what I did was basically remortgaged to give me
some breathing space so there was a thing called an offset mortgage at this
particular moment in time I don’t know if they still exist but basically I
could remortgage the house and they would put it in to a savings account
which would then get offset against my mortgage so in fact I hadn’t taken out a
bigger mortgage I just created two different pots of money one was the
savings account one was the mortgage and they would offset each other against it
and the reason that I did that was to give myself breathing space to give
myself plenty of room so that I could take a deep breath jump and then realize
that I had enough backup if things didn’t really work out but this is where
the big lesson comes in that I learned from all of this as soon as I took that
jump and left my job I mean the first thing was that everybody thought I was
mad again this goes back to believe some differences in lifestyles and stuff when
people said what you’re going to do it’s like oh you know well I’m going to be
writing for this magazine I was writing for Cher’s magazine at the time I’m
going to be doing these things I’m gonna be doing all of this work and there’s
this think would better that I think got a lot of potential and of course
people who think you know no don’t go there you know what are you doing you’ve
got three young children either it just doesn’t make any sense don’t do it but
again it’s this concept of people looking at things from their own
perspective you’ve got a vision and you’ve got the drive you pursue it
because people won’t understand and in fact the greatest things that you can do
are things that people have no awareness of so do them you know a prove prove
them wrong because if I would have listened to the advice of everybody
around me none of this would have ever happened I wouldn’t be here for 20 years
but also my drive behind doing this I hadn’t reached a dead end
career and decided that I would gamble to try and make a living it was a
conscious decision to do something that people had never done before back when I
started I didn’t know if anybody else had understood the concept
Betfair trading did not exist as a thing but I could see the potential to do
something special there never thought it would be going for 20 years I thought
maybe I’d have a few years before other people would discover it and then it
would all vanish or you know Betfair would phone me and tell me to stop doing
it because I was making too much money or something so I didn’t know how long
it was going to last but it wasn’t the money side of it that was important to
me it was the passion and desire to do something that nobody had ever done
before so you know I think if you’ve got a
passion then you should pursue it but also the thing that I noted so I sort of
swapped the order of those there but the thing that I noted was as soon as I put
myself in that position where suddenly I no longer had responsibilities of other
stuff I was just purely focused on what was in front of me opportunities opened
up all over the place I just never imagined that that would happen and when
you’re in a normal career you sort of worried about what would happen if you
stepped out of it or if you didn’t do the right thing and you didn’t hit your
target or all of these things and in fact none of it really mattered because
as soon as I stepped out of that just opportunities popped out of the woodwork
anywhere so when I left my former job they put me on gardening leave because
they didn’t want me to go and join a competitor and tell them about all the
projects we were working on so I took a plane to the US visited a lot of friends
and did loads of stuff like that just went around canvas
the opinion from people and out of that opportunities popped out of the woodwork
everywhere as soon as they said to people this is what I’m going to do they
said oh yeah you know have you talked to this guy have you spoken to this what
about that and opportunities came out of nowhere so yeah you know the the other
third the third thing I would say passion desire you know you have to have
a goal if you’re money oriented that money is a terrible master because it
will guide you in the wrong direction the reason that I did all of this was
because I had a passion and desire for it and I wanted to do things that nobody
had ever done before I never thought it would go on for 20 years but every year
I’m finding and discovering new things and taking it down a new avenues and
that’s what motivates me I don’t do it for the money any longer I do it for the
you know discovering something that nobody’s worked out before I love that
but so yeah it’s important you have that you need to just to say I’m doing this
for this reason and it’s got to be a reason that will carry you on for years
because I’m still excited every day to get up and think about a problem that I
haven’t solved yet and how I could possibly solve that but also you know
remortgaging the house three children you know it seems like the worst time to
go out and do something crazy but in fact it was the best time because the
focus that that brought to everything meant that I would really sort of who
drove Ford but also the thing that I hadn’t I was I was too worried about
things that could go wrong when I should have been worried about the things that
I was missing out on so going out into that big wide world gave me the
opportunity to go out and find all of those opportunities and I didn’t even
know that they existed but the fact is they’re all out there you just need to
go out and discover them and once you put yourself in the position to be able
to do that then suddenly they will start falling into your lap effectively so it
doesn’t have to be you know trading I’m talking in more general terms if you
have a passion of something and you know you’re good at it then the money sort of
follows really so you can’t do it the other way around if there’s some crazy
idea that you’ve had in your head that you want to pursue I would encourage you
to pursue it because if you do a good job at it even if it’s a struggle to
start with you will find that basically everything will sort itself out in time
because you’ve got the skill and passion to make it work it were just a fuse out
of you and those are the sort of people I like to work with you know if people
come and approach me if they they come with me with some idea or some process
or something interesting and I can see they’re passionate about it then I’m
quite interested in them but it’s important that you find you know
positive thinking people because whatever you do in life there are going
to be potential negatives if you cross the road
you could get run over by a car a meteor I could strike you it’s just different
levels of risk so the big breakthrough for me from going out and doing my own
thing was figuring out that it’s okay to take risk it’s okay to do crazy things
as long as you learn from them if you go out and do something you need something
okay that was a complete cock-up what did I do wrong man okay fair enough
I won’t do that again but if you don’t put yourself out there you just do not
move forward you don’t develop as a person you don’t achieve anything useful
you if you play very cautiously it’s a bit like a football team going out there
and and saying right your objective is not to concede a goal
you know what a boring work you’re never going to win anything like that because
you will forget how to score a goal and the fact is you can have to take your
few shots down again some of them will be a bit now but ultimately it’s the
process of taking those shots that will allow you to win again and the same in
life whatever you’re doing in whatever career you’re pursuing or whatever path
to following you’ve got to take risk and it’s okay to mess up it’s okay to fail
it doesn’t matter because you’ve better dust yourself down and go again
our brains are wired to a mode of operation that was around in prehistoric
times where if you made a mistake you could get eaten it doesn’t happen
nowadays so when you go out there and do these things you may as well take a
little bit of a risk here and there and see if you can progress things forward
it’s funny because you know a lot of the stuff that I developed for trading I
just come up with some crazy idea give it a try
and even if it doesn’t work I’m thinking all that’s interesting and that’s just
like a metaphor for all of the things I’ve done in my life as well you know
little decisions that I make on a macro basis or on a larger basis tend to lead
you into paths that you didn’t even know existed
so yeah slightly rambling video there but it difficult to tell you the full
story without putting it in its context and I think there are several important
life lessons there for you as well and these aren’t I’m not trying to push you
in one direction of I’m just giving you some general advice here on things that
you may want to do and I think seen as were at the beginning of the year then
that would be a good time to dispense that advice because it made guide what
you choose to do as you go through this year in 2020 anyhow I will return soon
with more trading videos but I thought that would be a useful video to kick the
year off on so your take out from this video should be find a mentor somebody
who can give you impartial advice step outside your comfort zone it doesn’t
matter if you do that don’t listen to people who doubt you you should pursue
your own things preferably a passion or desire it’s okay to make mistakes you
should learn from them and take those lessons forward and positive actions
create opportunities you don’t take those opportunities will never know what
they were

27 Replies to “Giving up my career to be a full time Betfair trader – Lessons I learnt”

  1. Brilliant insight as always Peter Makes me reflect on my own journey, where I’m at and where I’d like to be.

  2. You must have had a lot of reserve capital because the pressure of trading to literally survive with kids a partner, bills etc and not make poor decisions must be incredibly difficult. what happened with your bank regarding the mortgage after they found out you lost such a big guaranteed income ?

  3. Really good I can not recommend you enough! I read the original market wizards many moons ago and this is as good

  4. Interesting video and I agree with the sentiment of it. In another non trading area I have an interest there was an interview with what would be deemed a successful person in the industry and they came to the conclusion that following your passion and the money will come is actually an often tauted line but is actually terrible advice. Instead they argued that you should follow what you are good at and that pays and then use that 'easily' earned money to follow your passions. For example you might be passionate about writing but writing is a terrible payer for most. But if you are good at being an accountant do that and then that will fund your passion.

    We will never know but I am sure there are many others that like you have over the years quit there jobs to do what you have done but never made it. The thing is we never really hear of them as they fall away.

    You are clearly an outlier.

    But personally I agree that if you don't try you will never know and I can't think of anything worse than having the regret of never trying and always wondering. Just be sensible and have some form of back up plan.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Hello, Peter thank you again for great content and some really grounded advice. I would like to have a mentor like yourself. When are you running the courses?

  6. You'll have heard of The Peter Principal. Interesting comment that you had " reached as high as you could go ". Great video.

  7. Sticking 20k on Southampton to win a match at the moment might not be seen as such a stupid thing to be doing 🙂

  8. I agree with you Peter, nobody supports you when you make plans for your future, they tell you you can t do it because pessimism and jealousy are pillars of our society. People can t accepts failures, so they just don t take risk as you said. About psychological aspect, have you ever witnessed moments of sadness, burnout, even desperation when you started trading? Like you were stuck into nowhere and you tell yourself "i can t make this work" ?

  9. Former surgeon here (omfs)
    Decided to travel the road least traveled and do Betfair for living. Why? Freedom.
    Was it easy? Hell no. Left a 10k euro monthly job to do Betfair, was called insane by everyone i knew, lost friends, lost family, lost all saved money before i could turn everything around. Best decision ever. Basically this helped me filter out unnecessary people in life. As soon as i rose up, everyone came running and asked me to teach them. Of course i didn't.

    Lessons?
    – Work, work, when you're tired, work more.
    – You can NEVER learn or unlock the true potential of a trader while holding a full-time job
    – This is life, risk is everywhere, including in surgery. You have to decide which risks you are comfortable with.
    – Expect a lot of discouragement from people around, not because they hate u but because their understanding of what u do is limited.
    – The hardest part for me was the transition from gambling to trading (yes, lots of users on betfair still confuse these two)

    Life is short, take a risk, if it works, it works and if it doesn't, you're still breathing and you will be alright.

  10. Is trading a lot different from gambling? I've been a full time punter for years and apart from doing the odd stupid thing through drink or betting with my heart it's been a breeze

  11. Your story sounds very similar to mine. I always had big goals and being naive I worked hard academically to graduate with a masters degree in engineering thinking this would bring me there. After being an employee for a couple of years I realised that I was going to struggle to be any better than average by pursuing this path of high stress and responsibility for little reward. I did not like the corporate environment, the fixed and long hours at a desk, the commuting, the 4 weeks holidays and answering to a boss to name a few things

    Trading has certainly not been an easy journey but I know that this is what I want to do and why I get up 7 days a week to do this without it even feeling like work. However it's very hard to talk about to anyone else as everyone still seems to be living in the 20th century where the only path is working in a normal job. The first couple of years are very dark and require a huge amount of passion, resilience and money management/financial backup

  12. One of the best video i never seen before from your Channel and such a shame im italian but i was working in Southampton the last 2 year and didnt have a chance to Meet you how i can be your student?

  13. I still want to know WHY Betfair is Illegal in the United States ??????? Makes absolutely no sense!! Gambling is.now legal!!! Except Betfair…

  14. Great video Peter, as always. I believe personal growth is vitally important. After having a play with Bet Angel part time a few years ago I feel now is the time to commit. Never stop learning, never stop improving and never give up!! I recently read Simon Sineks book – Start with Why. Why do I want to do this? Lifestyle choice, travelling from my home in Australia back to my parents in the UK and still being able to trade. I intend to journal all my experiences and wholeheartidly believe I will be a successful trader. I know its not going to be a straight line from A to B but I will get there!!

  15. Hi Peter, I'm currently writing my own Betfair trading app. I'm stuck as to how I update the horse racing results when the race has finished. Could you give me a point in the right direction? MarketCatalogue doesn't return past races, just future ones? Thanks in advance.

  16. Ability to develop desire is also an inverse function of parental forcing. 'Pushy parent syndrome' accelerates narrow childhood performance but stunts decision-making capacity, eliminates resilience and quite often creates conditions for depression.There are a lot of parents who 'know what's best for their children', without having to ever prove that nor be punished for be proven wrong.Of course, parental encouragement is a hugely different thing……..

  17. Setting your own rules is pretty unique to trading, it is not really a function of owning your own business. If you are a services provider, you still have to play by the rules of your clients. Of course, you can decide how many clients to have and who they will be, but it is rare that you can actually tell them what to do.Trading Betfair is you vs the faceless marketplace: you have no liabilities to banks, you can trade to whatever level you feel like, as long as you generate enough income to pay your way.So trading is the ultimate career for the ultimate libertarians…….

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