In Play (‘In-Running’) Horse Racing Trading on Betfair

During the long period I spent trying to learn how to make regular profits trading the horse racing Pre-Race markets, I dabbled with various In-Play trading strategies along the way as well. I had heard about some interesting in play methods and I had also tried to invent some of my own with varied success. Nothing to write home about, but enough to inspire me to keep playing around.

Tired man at deskThere were several reasons why I wanted to trade horses In-Running, not least of those was the fact that I needed a “release” from the pre-race markets which demanded immense concentration, discipline and a lot of stamina too. It was exhausting, often infuriating, and occasionally completely soul-destroying I have to admit. Anyone who has mastered the pre-race markets will attest to this and won’t have forgotten their own mind-numbing learning experience, of that I am absolutely certain!

Another reason I was tinkering with in-running strategies was because I was losing money, as we all do when learning something as challenging as pre-race trading. Sometimes I would lose quite a bit on a string of horrible whipsaws and sudden unpredictable trend-reversals just seconds before the off. At which point I would hit my limit and walk away from the pre race markets for that particular day. I wanted to try and hedge off some of my losses, just to soften the blows of these losing days, and I gradually found that it was possible to do so by going “in-play” on some of my trades.


Please don’t misinterpret what I just said. I do not mean that I couldn’t take my pre race losses
on the chin, and instead just gambled on the race in a “double or nothing” suicide venture!


Suicide at desk


I won’t pretend I have never done that, I am just as human and imperfect as the next man. But I got that silly stuff out of my system, and out of my trading, way back when I got into football trading many years ago now. Some scalps or bookmaking/dutching trades would burn me when I was younger and sillier than I am now, and I would occasionally leave all my red on one team as I “knew” (don’t we all!) they couldn’t win the game. Of course I knew sweet Fanny Adams back then, and the games I tried that on confirmed that for me very quickly, leaving me far more battered and bruised than my small pre-game losses would have done!

No, what I meant is that after a few nasty red trades in the pre-race markets, I would try changing my tack and I needed some other methods to switch over to when I didn’t want to leave the desk but needed a break from my current trading approach. This is where In-Play or IR (in-running) trading came in for me.

Before most races I would do some statistics, form analysis, listen to some commentary, read the most popular tipsters’ naps for the day and so on. I hoped this information would help with my trading in the pre-race markets, but quickly realised the information probably had more use to me when applied to the actual running of the race after the off, and how the horses would most likely perform. In particular how the front 3 or 4 runners in the market (the favourites) would perform.

I began making very small bets based on what I felt I had learned from this research, not to find a winner but to find horses which looked likely to run well (or badly) for at least a portion of the race, or in some cases with a view to laying the field. I then set about making use of that information in various ways. Sometimes backing, sometimes laying, sometimes actually betting on the outcome but not until half way through the race when I had seen the signals I was hoping to see to confirm that the data I had been reading was playing out in front of me before getting involved.


I would love to finish this little story with “and then I bought a Ferrari and moved to the Costa Del Sol with my 3 supermodel girlfriends who all wanted to share the house with me and craved cooking and housework as much as they craved my…..” Damn, outside voice, sorry.

The truth is, I did ok, not much better than that. At least that’s what I thought at the time. Only a good while later (perhaps over a whole year later) I realised I actually did a bit better than OK. No, I still didn’t have a Ferrari or any nymphs to speak of, but I noticed that my results had been disguised by the pre-race losses I was making during that long and painful learning phase.

In other words, I was losing money most weeks on pre-race trading, but I was making money on many of my in-play horse racing trades which I wasn’t keeping separate for some stupid reason. I had simply failed to do what I preach about to people today (hence why I do preach about it!)…

Keep records and analyse your results regularly, and carefully!

If only I had done that, I could have spotted a lot more good things I was doing which unfortunately I was blissfully unaware of for a very long time. Oops

So, much later on, I did eventually realise that there were ways to make money in-play with horse racing, but by then I had long since stopped doing what I was doing (having become laser-focussed on pre-race trading) and here comes shameful admission number two….. I couldn’t even remember how I had previously been choosing my in play trades! Again, because I hadn’t kept good records or notes on my trades.




Hopefully the many readers out there who are new to Betfair trading are starting to understand how much I mean it when I say I really have “walked the walk” and that I really do know what you’re going through while you learn. I am talking specifically about that lonely and stressful path all traders must walk before they finally feel like they are making any progress. I really do think I must have tripped over every possible obstacle in my time, two or three times each! I don’t claim to be a fast-learner by any means. I am the type of person who hits his thumb every time he hammers in a nail! I eventually laugh at how bloody and bruised my thumb is, but never giving up until I drive that swine home even if it costs me two thumbs!

The longer the path, the stronger you are at the end of it. I am totally convinced of this relationship between difficulty level and ultimate rewards. This is why I harp on about “bank preservation” being your number one priority at all times. I know how long this journey can be, and the quickest way to ruin your chances of completing it, is to have an empty Betfair account long before you discover success. So staying in the game is the first priority when learning any new method, staking small enough to give yourself the longest possible time to find consistent and prolonged success, before increasing your bank and therefore your stakes.

Of course I didn’t forget every single thing I had been doing in-running. I did have some vague memories and ideas, but I definitely felt totally unable to just pick up where I left off and confidently repeat the same types of trades after so much time had passed.

Maybe in hindsight this wasn’t such a terrible thing. After all, many of my in play trades made good profits, but I can’t say they were too amazing. Against the backdrop of my (then) terrible pre race trading results they certainly looked very good, but they weren’t good enough to make me a regular full time income by any means, at least not without honing them and doing a lot more of them every day anyway.

lightbulb momentBut I had discovered an opportunity both in myself and in the markets, and it caused me to make a very determined and renewed effort to investigate the in-running racing markets fully.

I wanted to make greens in play, as well as before the off. I couldn’t just forget about it. Around this time I met a man who became a very good friend of mine, and he remains a close friend to this day….

We were both at a large hotel complex, at what I think began as a wedding reception but by the time we got chatting it was nothing short of a slightly rowdy knees-up. He had consumed a good few more than he probably should have, and so had I. I overheard him talking to someone in a corner, they were discussing football trading on Betfair. Back then, it was rare to come across someone who had even heard of Betfair or football trading. I was already trading football full time myself, so maybe I was a bit sneaky but I didn’t instantly strike up a conversation. I preferred to eaves-drop from the seat behind them, staring into my beer glass but listening very carefully in case I could grab any nuggets while he thought he was talking another language to the people listening!

After five or ten minutes his conversation was coming to an end and I decided to say hello before he disappeared. I mentioned how I had heard him talking about trading football on the exchange and that I was into that as well. He was extremely cagey. After all he was no longer talking to a Betfair virgin, he was talking to someone who was doing what he was doing! Back in those days people were far more secretive about it too, nobody was sure whether it was “safe” to talk about it. People (including me) genuinely wondered if the markets would stop working or if the whole thing could die if “too many” people starting doing it. Of course the laws of any market actually dictate the very opposite, the more participants in any market only serve to increase the volume, make prices easier to predict rather than harder, and generally make it easier to trade. They certainly don’t do any damage to a trader’s prospects. But we tip-toed around our methods as we chatted, neither one of us wanting to go into too much detail. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to “catch up sometime”, neither of us really sure if we would.

The next day, after giving it some serious thought, I decided to give him a call and we met up for a beer in slightly quieter surroundings where we could actually talk properly. I was interested to learn that we were doing quite different things in the markets. Also I discovered he was not only doing football trading, but horses too (and golf and even a bit of tennis trading if I remember). Better still, where horse racing was concerned he was mainly focussed on the in play markets whereas I was more focussed on the pre race markets. We talked about some recent football trades and were surprised to find that we both traded the same games quite often, but in different ways. Ditto for some recent horse races. This got us both very curious about new opportunities we could learn from each other, and we decided to stay in touch and talk regularly about our trading.

Aside from the football stuff we shared, the upshot of this new relationship was that I got some great tips for going back into the in-play horse racing markets but this time I had someone to guide me a bit and to talk to when I had any problems or confusing outcomes in some races. I learned a massive amount from him over the next year or two, and during that time I tried a whole variety of in-play racing trading methods. I soon learned two important things:

  1. There is a lot of money on offer if you can follow a definite plan, without being tempted to hold on longer for “the big win”, or worse, to hold on to avoid or undo a big loss (as they only get bigger!)
  2. The in-running market is one hell of a different beast to the pre-race markets, and the pre-race markets are a damn sight more volatile and scary than the stock markets I had been used to trading before I got into any kind of Betfair trading!

I was hooked quite quickly. It was so different to trading the pre-race markets. It demanded even more self-control and discipline (more than I had when I started) so I knew I could only get stronger as a trader by sticking with it, and I soon found that it was actually pretty easy to pick winning trades with just a minute or two of research. Aside from the extra self-control needed (due to the speed things happen in running) it actually felt in many ways a lot easier than pre race trading had felt when I was learning that.

Since that day I have regularly traded horses in-running. I had quite a few methods to choose from, but after a while I decided to just pick a few of the best and do away with the others, mainly just to help me focus better and specialise in the ones which I found the most profitable and simplest to carry out. It was time to adopt the Zulu Principle into my Betfair trading, just as I had done with my stock trading ever since I had first learned about the concept and how it was employed by many stock traders in their trading portfolios.


Zulu Principle


One of the attractions of in-play trading for me at that time was how it felt like a refreshing change from pre race trading. I don’t mean I replaced pre race trading with it, I never would have done that. But after days and days of solid hard graft in the pre race markets, eyes burning a hole in the screen for hours on end, I would frequently need a mental break from it.

This would usually mean leaving the office for a few days or sometimes a whole week, I found it so draining. But trading in-play felt so different it actually served almost like a break for my mind, like a glass of ice-cold milk after eating a hot chilli! Over the next few months I found myself trading the pre-race markets for a few days and then having a ‘day off’ by only trading in play for a day. It worked really nicely for quite a while, but I gradually realised the two didn’t need to be kept quite that separate, and I was missing out on quite a lot of green by having such a big divide between the two approaches.

toiletThroughout the next year or so I began to use both strategies almost simultaneously within any normal trading day and it felt easier than when I was focussed solely on the pre race stuff all day. By having a quick look for any in play opportunities in between bouts of “tunnel-vision” on the pre-race ladders, I would find myself naturally resting for a minute or two at regular intervals, something I could never do before even when I tried to force myself to step away briefly. After all, I might “miss out” on a move! I am not joking when I tell you that I used to come close to wetting myself for fear of leaving the screen for half a minute to run to the loo!

Also, I wouldn’t be digging quite so hard for a pre race trade as I would often have an in play trade coming up in the same race, so if there were no really clear trends or pre off trading opportunities, I wasn’t straining my eyes to find one any more, I was just making a brew and waiting for the race to get going as I was backing or laying a horse in the race.

And so I eventually found what I would call my sweet spot, my own comfortable approach to daily trading on the horses. I had a great friend who no doubt benefitted from me as much as I did from him, and I had some (now just 3 or 4) in play racing methods which I could use in quite a relaxed way as and when I felt like it. On days where the pre race trading was not very good (some days are just pure rubbish and you may as well not bother), I had other things to keep my interest and attention, and of course bag some trades in otherwise dismal markets.

I have been asked countless times to publish a guide to how I approach the in-play racing markets and I have resisted for a good few years now. Not because I don’t want to share them, just because they are hard to explain well, and I hate crappy ebooks which give you the gist of something but don’t actually tell you precisely how to do something in every small detail.

As you will already know if you have ever read my Lay The Draw ebook, I like to give every single detail I possibly can, I want people to basically be as close to being “ME” after they read it as possible. Not someone who just ‘knows about’ my strategy, but someone who can replicate exactly what I do. Knowing I would only publish something if it was as thorough as that, I knew also that it would be an enormous task to produce something that covered every single tiny detail, so it was easy to put off until I had a good chunk of time available.

busy man at desk


Most of what I do is fast and done almost automatically, almost sub-consciously, and the thought of writing down every single thought I have, every click I make on my mouse, and all the many reasons why I might exit a trade, take a smaller green, wait for a bigger green, etc etc, it just seemed like an almost impossible task. So this is my honest reason (and apology really) as to why this hasn’t been produced over the years some of you have been waiting. Until now that is.

Yes I have finally managed to find time this summer (2017) to properly get away from the ladders for a bit, giving me time to put e-pen to e-paper to produce my In-Play Horse Racing Trading eBook (and another one too as it happens!). I did use some of the time to enjoy a few family trips and do some other fun stuff too of course! Some of my regular readers will know I have had a dodgy time health-wise over the past year or two, so I think I was well overdue a change of scenery and slower pace for a while anyway, and I feel a lot stronger for having done so.

My brand new In-Running Trading eBook is more than twice as long as any other eBook I have produced. It was hard work to put together because I wanted to be able to cater for total novices as well as people who may have been trading for some years, trying to think about everything all these different people might need to know took quite some time. It is also probably the most valuable information I have ever published, and that’s no boast at all, just how I feel about it now that it’s finally completed.

I genuinely mean this when I say it – If I had access to a laptop for just an hour or two per day and I really didn’t have months or years to practice pre-race trading, the methods in this ebook are what I would be doing with my time. Pre-race trading is often seen as the holy grail of Betfair trading, and I can’t really argue against that. But it’s very time consuming and you really have to put in the hours, full business day type hours, to fully reap its rewards. The in-play trading methods in this ebook take a fraction of the time and can still net very good profits, so for me these would be favoured as the quicker and frankly easier way to bank regular green trades.

Please do bear in mind that when I say “easier”, it’s all relative. NO trading is “easy” for a novice. I am talking about comparisons with other methods, not comparisons with sewing or making a sandwich. With that said, I would have given anything to have had access to this eBook myself, back when I was in my tough learning phase as it would have made my journey a whole lot easier, faster, and more enjoyable. I really like to think I can help some of you to get an easier ride to success than I did, and if this eBook does that then I will really feel good about publishing it.

P.S. The methods are not state secrets. With the amount of stuff on the web, virtually nothing is a secret any more! So some traders may have heard at least a bit about them in their travels around the web at some point. Quite a few professional racing traders use similar methods, they may be similar in name, but they are probably quite different in practice. How they trade their versions of them I don’t know, I only know my way, which is what I explain in massive detail in the eBook. Whether or not you have heard of them is not important, whether you have tried them my way is. I hope you do, and I hope they bring you a new edge to your trading, and a new uptrend to your profits. I have a sneaky feeling they will.

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