Hi Paul, thanks for agreeing to an interview. Could you just explain who you are and what you do?
I’m Paul Shires and I started TradeShark Tennis back in 2009. I am a full time tennis trader on Betfair and also provide services to help others with their own trading. I was born in Bradford but now live with my wife, Sue, in Worcester. I also help our daughter out with her cleaning business. I help with training and even do a few shifts myself! I also do some dog training on the side too so my days are pretty packed!
How did you first get involved in trading and how did begin to learn the ins and outs of it?
I found Adam Todd’s story on the internet and it sparked my interest. I had never heard of Betfair trading but did have a Betfair account that I had used for small bets on football. Adam traded pre race horse races using the Betfair website.
Once I knew about trading I tried to research it but there was very little info out there. I played around with small stakes and signed up for Adam’s BetTrader software and got excited when I started to see how trading worked.
No one was talking about trading so I never bothered with laying first. I just backed what I thought would win and traded out.
You focus predominantly on trading tennis, why tennis?
I was working full time so couldn’t stick with trading the horses.
As a kid and teenager I had played just about every sport going but had really enjoyed tennis and table tennis and had the most success at these. I played for England and Wales boys clubs at Table Tennis and had an England trial though I didn’t get in. Table tennis isn’t popular for trading and tennis seemed to offer more available matches.
Being a player also seemed to help me undertand the mental side of the sport which is huge. The matches were on at all times of the day through the year so it felt like a good choice.
Are there any tools or resources you couldn’t live without as a tennis trader?
Without question I would struggle without Tennis Insight. No other site that I have found provides what they do in one place and it makes researching matches so much easier. I also use Oncourt which allows you to look at stats a little differently, for example, side by side.
When trading tennis, what are the main things you look for in a match?
As with trading any sport I am looking for value. I want a price that is higher than it should be. That price won’t be there for long so you have to act fast to get the best prices. I research all the day’s matches and try to spot where the market has got the price wrong pre match. Predicting a match pre match is tough in tennis as the match can do a 180 in just a few seconds.
In matches that start quite evenly priced there is great value to be had as traders try to be on the right side of the direction the match seems to be taking. Like any sport it helps if your predictions are decent and I prefer to be out of the match well before they are anywhere near the result.
Are there particular matches or tournaments you will always avoid or can any match have a potential trading opportunity?
Pretty much any match has the potential for opportunities although you usually have to wait for value in play. Matches where the favourite starts at a short price and runs away with the match obviously don’t give us much.
I have never been a fan of trading Davis Cup. Nothing wrong with the matches but I have been irritated so many times by researching a match only for the players to be changed just before the scheduled start time. I think it just became a habit that I don’t trade them.
Also I don’t have any interest in the Premier League in December. Someone asked me if I would be covering the PL in my Trading Advice Emails and I replied that would be like asking a golf guy if he would be covering crazy golf.
What was your most exciting trading moment and why?
Probably THE most exciting was when I made 30p! It was when I was trying to work out what trading was all about. I was using BetTrader with the tick offset tool. I placed my opening trade and the software placed the closing trade automatically and greened up in a matter of seconds! I was hooked!
My next best moments were probably when trading cricket’s IPL for the first time. I had not really looked at cricket up to that point and had watched a few of the early matches. I noticed that in almost all the matches there had been at least 1 wicket in the first 3 to 5 overs. Then I got involved with stakes of between £500 and £750 the next 2 matches worked out perfectly and I walked away with almost 2k. I was all set to bin off tennis and just trade the IPL each year.
And what about any disasters? And what have you done to avoid the same thing happening?
I had a nightmare on a Man UTD match. I think I had laid the draw and the match was heading for a 0-0. I thought I would buy myself out of trouble and backed the draw for 1K. Of course they scored in Fergie Time. I have avoided doing that again by just not being a prick.
I also had a bit of a meltdown on my first day as a full time trader. I was using a 3K bank. My head was all over the place and early in the session I just lost the plot. I ended up with a horrendous position on a WTA match and had just £45 left in my bank ( I had 2 back up banks available in case of disaster). In the end I walked away from my desk and prayed for the right result. It did go my way and I made 80 quid but it was a massive reality check. It did me good in the long run but how I didn’t puke I honestly don’t know.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into trading?
Take it slowly. I get a lot of people emailing me saying that they have a 1K bank and how much can they make each month. I advise them to forget about making money at first and to learn how not to lose.
Always start with small stakes. Even if you’re experienced in trading other sports. Every sport is different and you WILL make mistakes. It makes no sense to let those mistakes cost too much.
Get consistent before you even think about increasing stakes and when you do increase them do it gradually. If you try to jump from £10 stakes to £250 in one go then trust me you will shit yourself when you see the red figure on the other player.
Also try to find someone who you trust who has some knowledge of trading who you can ask for advice. I wish there had been someone like that when I was learning.
Are there any tools that are essential for trading in general?
It’s possible to use the Betfair site but good trading software makes things so much easier. You obviously need a reliable internet connection. If you can afford a second ( or third) screen then it does make a difference. They don’t need to be top of the range. I still use one that I got for £25 on ebay!
What would be your 3 ultimate rules for any trader?
Everyone knows that you need to protect your bank but it is just as important to protect your confidence. So much of trading is done between the ears. Lose your confidence with erratic and careless trades and you risk affecting your decision making ability.
Find what works for you and stick with it. Always look for new ways to trade but you need some “bread and butter” trades to keep things ticking along.
Ignore the braggers who tell you how much they made on the last match. It’s probably bullshit. Push yourself to improve but do it at YOUR pace.