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6,370 posts
msg #49151
Ignore TheRumpledOne
1/11/2007 12:56:27 PM

From same place...

You may be filled with knowledge about trading or have a sound trading system using the latest technical indicators, but most professional traders will tell you that the single, most important factor in futures trading success is using good money management principles. A higher percentage of winning trades or yet another trading tool may be helpful, but if you do not have a good money management plan in place for trading futures, you are not likely to remain in the trading game very long. You need to develop your own money management program for entering or exiting markets, sizing your positions, etc. based on the size of your account and your trading style, but here are some principles to guide you, listed in no particular order.

1. Bulls make a little. Bears make a little. Pigs get slaughtered.
In other words, do not be a greedy trader. If you are a bull, don't expect to get in at the bottom and out at the top. If you are a bear, don't expect to pick an exact market top and ride a market all the way down to the lowest low. Thinking otherwise allows the destructive "greed" emotion to take over. Greed has been the ruin of many traders.

2. Any fool can get into a market, but it's the real pros that know when to get out.
Indeed, market entry is certainly an important element of successful trading. However, exiting the trade is paramount. Many times a trader will allow a market to "go against" him or her for way too long and way too far--meaning big trading losses. See next item.

3. Use protective buy and sell stops.
One of the major mistakes many traders make is not using protective buy and sell stops when they enter a trade. Or, traders may pull their protective stop, "hoping" the market will turn in their favor. Don't be fooled into using "mental stops." Determining where to place protective buy and sell stops BEFORE market entry is one of the best money-management tools available.

4. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.
Using a large percentage of your entire trading account for one trade is unwise. Remember that even professional traders will have more losing trades than winning trades over time. The key to success is minimizing losses on the more numerous losing trades and maximizing profits on the fewer winning trades. See next item.

5. Cut losses short. Let winners ride.
Using a pre-determined protective buy or sell stop will cut your trading losses short. Using a trailing protective stop on trades that become profitable will allow you to maximize profits on the winning trades.

6. Only the markets know for sure.
Don't ever think you "know" what a market will do at any given point in time. One of the biggest advantages for sound money management is "knowing that you don't know" what a market will do at any given time. A recipe for trading disaster is thinking you know that a market will do. Remember the old trading adage: "Markets will do anything and everything to frustrate the largest amount of traders."

7. Be humble.
When trading profits are taken, be glad that it was not a trading loss. Don't grouse because you left a bunch of money "on the table" after you exited your winning position.

8. On selling options, use caution.
There are some traders who do sell options on futures (as opposed to buying options) and make profits doing it. And there are many traders that don't. I heard a veteran speaker at a trading seminar once say: “I made over 40 trades selling options in a year, with 97% winners--and still lost money.” Remember the old saying that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

9. Don't over-trade.
Trying to trade too many markets at one time is not good money management. If you run into a losing streak, cut down on trading--DO NOT try to trade more markets just too quickly recoup lost money.

10. To succeed at trading markets, one must first survive at trading markets.
Be conservative with your trading account and trading methods--especially if you are a less experienced trader. Go for those "base hit" trades, and don't swing for the fence and try to hit a home run in a trading decision. Traders need to survive to trade another day, if the absorb a few losing trades.

6,370 posts
msg #49150
Ignore TheRumpledOne
1/11/2007 12:57:03 PM

Found this today...

Traders have developed lots of rules over the years in an attempt to refine the way they make trading decisions. So it’s not hard to come up with a list of 10 trading rules that can be part of a trading plan. Some are generic and general and not exclusive to any particular trader or trading approach. Others can be very precise as traders tweak rules into their trading system. The rules below have been selected for their broad appeal to many types of traders. They are presented in no particular order of importance.

1. Don’t trade markets about which you know very little.
This is not to imply that you have to be a fundamental expert on every market you wish to trade. However, you should know about what fundamentals are impacting, or could impact, a market you are contemplating trading. For example, a person who has only traded grains would not want to jump right into a Treasury Bond futures trade without first doing a bit of homework on how the bond market trades – price increments (dollar amount per tick), trading hours, on what exchange the market trades, etc.

A trader could pick up a Wall Street Journal and read the “Credit Markets” section for a week or so to become familiar with fundamental factors that influence the bond market. Also, consider this: Most traders enjoy the process of trading. If they did not, they would likely just hand their money over to a “fund manager” and give the manager discretionary control over their money. Learning and knowing what fundamental factors are impacting or could impact a market that a trader plans to trade is part of the process (enjoyment) of trading.

2. Don’t trade hot “tips.”
You may trade for 20 years and never hear a good trading tip. Reason: There aren’t any . . . at least not any that are any good for regular individual traders. Markets are way too big and too tightly regulated to be impacted by any tips or inside information. Any legitimate “early information” has almost certainly already been factored into the market price structure by the time most individual traders could ever benefit from it.

Don’t confuse tips with rumors. Markets do move on rumors more than just occasionally. Rumors are a part of trading but still fall into the category of “not much use” to off-floor traders. Besides, many rumors are never confirmed as fact and are often self-serving to those who try to start them.

3. Don’t get too fancy with your market orders.
Entering a trade “at the market” with a market order may be the best way to enter a trading position, especially in markets that are liquid (have high open interest). It’s certainly the easiest way to enter. Fiddling around with limit or stop-limit or other multi-step orders to save a tick or two or three can cost a trader a good entry point or even a missed trade altogether.

It’s certainly easy to be guilty of this offense because every trader is always trying to get just a little better price. This doesn’t mean that limit or stop-limit or other types of orders are not useful in certain circumstances because they are. However, most trade entries are best made “at the market.” Look at pitchers in major league baseball who “nibble” with their pitches around home plate. Most wind up with a walk instead of an out.

4. Don’t form a new market opinion during trading hours.
This rule goes hand in hand with the rule that says you need to stick to your trading plan of action. Day-to-day market “noise,” or the minor up-and-down price fluctuations of a market, can be at least distracting to a trader and at most prompt the trader to make a hasty and poorly founded trading decision.

5. Don’t force trades; if you don’t see a trade, stand aside.
Don’t chase a market just to put on a trade. Try to exhibit patience and discipline in trading – easily said but hard to follow. Patience and discipline are not easy virtues for any trader to learn because a typical futures trader has a “Type A” personality with a competitive nature who hates to wait in lines. However, to have even a chance at success in trading, you have to control your impatience. If you happen to miss a trading opportunity because you waited too long, other trading opportunities will come along.

A good trade is usually profitable right from the beginning. If the market price moves “your way” in the first couple days after you’ve executed the trade, then odds are significantly higher that your trade will be a winner if you have waited patiently for the right position. This rule reinforces the notion that tight protective stops are an important part of trading success. But there is a time to be impatient: If a straight futures trade is under water after two or three days, more times than not it’s prudent to take a small loss and move on. Do not be patient with losers.

6. Use intermarket analysis to spot trading opportunities.
No market trades in isolation but is influenced by what is happening in a number of related markets. Don’t focus on just one market as much of today’s single-market technical analysis does. Instead, take into account developments in other markets that are likely to affect prices in your target market. If you trade stock indexes, you have to be aware of what is taking place in interest rate, currency and commodity markets such as gold. The price of a market you want to trade may be the sum of what is happening in ten or more interrelated markets.

7. Watch open interest statistics, especially in options.
When you are contemplating trading any contract, make sure to first check the open interest for that specific contract or strike price. If a futures contract or options strike price has a low open interest total, it is probably best to seek out a more liquid contract. Fills on both entry and exit can be tough and may produce more slippage than is desired. When you get into a position, be sure it is liquid enough so you can get out on favorable terms.

8. Know what you can and cannot control.
You can control the market you want to trade. You can control the type of market order you want to give your broker. You can control when you want to enter the market. You can control the amount of contracts you wish to trade. You can control when you want to exit the market.

But you can’t control the market, which often has a habit of doing unusual and unexpected things. Knowing and prudently managing the market factors you can control and knowing that you cannot control the market gives you a trading edge.

9. Make the market’s action confirm your opinions.
If you have a particular market on your “radar screen” for a trade, don’t just jump in based on a hunch or a “gut feeling” or because you want to get a fill right away. That’s when a market order advised above may not be in your best interest. Make the market first confirm your opinion. Make the market show you some strength if you want to be long, or make it show you some weakness if you want to be short.

10. Do not overtrade.
Trying to trade too many markets or too many contracts in one market can create problems for an undercapitalized trader. There is no set rule for how many markets a trader should trade at one time. Some traders can trade many markets at the same time and not have a problem. However, if you are feeling stress about a position you are carrying or can’t keep up with what’s going on in all the markets you are trading, then you are likely over-trading.

For those traders who are really not sure how many markets to trade at one time or how many contracts to trade for each position, it’s always better to take a conservative approach. Step in slowly until you become comfortable trading in a larger size or in multiple markets.

6,370 posts
msg #51798
Ignore TheRumpledOne
5/25/2007 11:42:12 AM

Patience Pays

By Charles Delvalle

The number one skill you must learn in order to make money trading stocks is patience.

A patient trader will be able to control the impulse to buy a stock because, even though its price is skyrocketing, it never quite made it down to hit his targeted "buy" price. He will also be able to keep himself from selling when his position in a stock makes a slight move against him.

A patient trader understands that opportunities to make money in the market are always present. This allows him to pass by trading setups that are less than ideal and go only for those that give him the best chance of making money.

By simply having patience, you demonstrate confidence in your trading system and in the knowledge backing up your decisions. This pays off very well in the trading world.

6,370 posts
msg #51799
Ignore TheRumpledOne
5/25/2007 1:31:24 PM

Five Fatal Flaws of Trading: No. 5, "Lack of Money Management"

Close to ninety percent of all traders lose money. We're not just talking about amateurs here, either. Whether you trade for a living or "for fun," chances are, you will not succeed.

That's a sad, sobering fact. However, the remaining ten percent of traders somehow manage to either break even or even make money – and more importantly, do it consistently.

How do they do that?

That's an age-old question. Thousands of books have been written and countless seminars and interviews have been conducted in an attempt to answer it. To this day, no magic formula has been found.

Still, we thought we'd take a shot at it in our weeklong series "Why Do Traders Lose?" Its author, Elliott Wave International's Futures Junctures Service editor Jeffrey Kennedy, has identified five fundamental flaws that, in his opinion, stop most traders from being consistently successful.

We don't claim we've found The Holy Grail of trading here. But sometimes a single idea can change a person's life. Maybe you'll find one in this week's series? We sincerely hope so.

The following was excerpted exclusively for The A.M. Trader readers from Jeffrey Kennedy’s highly popular Trader’s Classroom section of the just-published, May issue of Monthly Futures Junctures.

"Why Do Traders Lose?

"If you’ve been trading for a long time, you no doubt have felt that a monstrous, invisible hand sometimes reaches into your trading account and takes out money. It doesn’t seem to matter how many books you buy, how many seminars you attend or how many hours you spend analyzing price charts, you just can’t seem to prevent that invisible hand from depleting your trading account funds.

"Which brings us to the question: Why do traders lose? Or maybe we should ask, 'How do you stop the Hand?' Whether you are a seasoned professional or just thinking about opening your first trading account, the ability to stop the Hand is proportional to how well you understand and overcome the Five Fatal Flaws of trading. For each fatal flaw represents a finger on the invisible hand that wreaks havoc with your trading account.

"Fatal Flaw No. 1 – Lack of Methodology

"The first fatal flaw is a Lack of Methodology. If you aim to be a consistently successful trader, then you must have a defined trading methodology, which is simply a clear and concise way of looking at markets. Guessing or going by gut instinct won’t work over the long run. If you don’t have a defined trading methodology, then you don’t have a way to know what constitutes a buy or sell signal. Moreover, you can’t even consistently correctly identify the trend.

"How to overcome this fatal flaw? Answer: Write down your methodology. Define in writing what your analytical tools are and, more importantly, how you use them. It doesn’t matter whether you use the Wave Principle, Point and Figure charts, Stochastics, RSI or a combination of all of the above. What does matter is that you actually take the effort to define it (i.e., what constitutes a buy, a sell, your trailing stop and instructions on exiting a position). And the best hint I can give you regarding developing a defined trading methodology is this: If you can’t fit it on the back of a business card, it’s probably too complicated.

"Fatal Flaw No. 2 – Lack of Discipline

"When you have clearly outlined and identified your trading methodology, then you must have the discipline to follow your system. A Lack of Discipline in this regard is the second fatal flaw. If the way you view a price chart or evaluate a potential trade setup is different from how you did it a month ago, then you have either not identified your methodology or you lack the discipline to follow the methodology you have identified. The formula for success is to consistently apply a proven methodology. So the best advice I can give you to overcome a lack of discipline is to define a trading methodology that works best for you and follow it religiously.

"Fatal Flaw No. 3 – Unrealistic Expectations

"Between you and me, nothing makes me angrier than those commercials that say something like, "...$5,000 properly positioned in Natural Gas can give you returns of over $40,000..." Advertisements like this are a disservice to the financial industry as a whole and end up costing uneducated investors a lot more than $5,000. In addition, they help to create the third fatal flaw: Unrealistic Expectations.

"Yes, it is possible to experience above-average returns trading your own account. However, it’s difficult to do it without taking on above-average risk. So what is a realistic return to shoot for in your first year as a trader – 50%, 100%, 200%? Whoa, let’s rein in those unrealistic expectations. In my opinion, the goal for every trader their first year out should be not to lose money. In other words, shoot for a 0% return your first year. If you can manage that, then in year two, try to beat the Dow or the S&P. These goals may not be flashy but they are realistic, and if you can learn to live with them – and achieve them – you will fend off the Hand.

"Fatal Flaw No. 4 – Lack of Patience

"The fourth finger of the invisible hand that robs your trading account is Lack of Patience. I forget where, but I once read that markets trend only 20% of the time, and, from my experience, I would say that this is an accurate statement. So think about it, the other 80% of the time the markets are not trending in one clear direction.

"That may explain why I believe that for any given time frame, there are only two or three really good trading opportunities. For example, if you’re a long-term trader, there are typically only two or three compelling tradable moves in a market during any given year. Similarly, if you are a short-term trader, there are only two or three high-quality trade setups in a given week.

"All too often, because trading is inherently exciting (and anything involving money usually is exciting), it’s easy to feel like you’re missing the party if you don’t trade a lot. As a result, you start taking trade setups of lesser and lesser quality and begin to over-trade.

"How do you overcome this lack of patience? The advice I have found to be most valuable is to remind yourself that every week, there is another trade-of-the-year. In other words, don’t worry about missing an opportunity today, because there will be another one tomorrow, next week and next month ... I promise.

"I remember a line from a movie (either Sergeant York with Gary Cooper or The Patriot with Mel Gibson) in which one character gives advice to another on how to shoot a rifle: 'Aim small, miss small.' I offer the same advice in this new context. To aim small requires patience. So be patient, and you’ll miss small."

"Fatal Flaw No. 5 – Lack of Money Management

"The final fatal flaw to overcome as a trader is a Lack of Money Management, and this topic deserves more than just a few paragraphs, because money management encompasses risk/reward analysis, probability of success and failure, protective stops and so much more. Even so, I would like to address the subject of money management with a focus on risk as a function of portfolio size.

"Now the big boys (i.e., the professional traders) tend to limit their risk on any given position to 1% - 3% of their portfolio. If we apply this rule to ourselves, then for every $5,000 we have in our trading account, we can risk only $50-$150 on any given trade. Stocks might be a little different, but a $50 stop in Corn, which is one point, is simply too tight a stop, especially when the 10-day average trading range in Corn recently has been more than 10 points. A more plausible stop might be five points or 10, in which case, depending on what percentage of your total portfolio you want to risk, you would need an account size between $15,000 and $50,000.

"Simply put, I believe that many traders begin to trade either under-funded or without sufficient capital in their trading account to trade the markets they choose to trade. And that doesn’t even address the size that they trade (i.e., multiple contracts).

"To overcome this fatal flaw, let me expand on the logic from the 'aim small, miss small' movie line. If you have a small trading account, then trade small. You can accomplish this by trading fewer contracts, or trading e-mini contracts or even stocks. Bottom line, on your way to becoming a consistently successful trader, you must realize that one key is longevity. If your risk on any given position is relatively small, then you can weather the rough spots. Conversely, if you risk 25% of your portfolio on each trade, after four consecutive losers, you’re out all together.

"Break the Hand’s Grip

"Trading successfully is not easy. It’s hard work ... damn hard. And if anyone leads you to believe otherwise, run the other way, and fast. But this hard work can be rewarding, above-average gains are possible and the sense of satisfaction one feels after a few nice trades is absolutely priceless. To get to that point, though, you must first break the fingers of the Hand that is holding you back and stealing money from your trading account. I can guarantee that if you attend to the five fatal flaws I’ve outlined, you won’t be caught red-handed stealing from your own account.

6,370 posts
msg #57843
Ignore TheRumpledOne
12/9/2007 3:25:32 PM

Money Management by Joe Ross

Money Management
There are some common mistakes I’ve seen traders make in the area of money management. First, let’s understand what money management is all about.

Money management overlaps with risk, trade, business, and personal management, yet it has many aspects that make it unique, distinctly different from all of the other areas of management. In this chapter we want to examine some areas of money management that seem to involve mental quirks leading to costly mistakes.

Listening to Opinion
Kim has entered a short position in crude oil after carefully studying as many factors as she could reasonably include while making her decision to trade. She has entered the trade because her study of the underlying fundamentals has her convinced that crude oil prices must soon begin to fall. Then Kim turns on her television set and begins to watch one of the financial news stations. An “expert” in crude oil is being interviewed. He begins to talk about how crude oil inventories are almost certain to drop this year because oil companies are not doing as much exploration as they have in previous years. Kim listens intently to what he has to say and then begins to doubt her decision about the trade she has entered. The more she thinks about it, the more panicky she becomes. She considers abandoning her position even though she will end up with a loss. The fact that an “expert” has decided something else completely shakes her confidence. She exits the trade intraday and takes a $400 loss. Prices have not come near her protective stop, which was $700 away from her entry. The market never moves sufficiently far to have taken out her stop. By the end of the day, her crude oil futures have made a new high, and in the following days explodes into a genuine bull market. Instead of a magnificent win, Kim has a loss. The loss is more than money, she has lost confidence in herself.

What should be done?

You should set your own trading guidelines and trade what you see. Forget about opinion, your own and especially that of others. Unless you are one of a very rare breed whose opinions are sufficiently good for trading, do not trade on them.

Make an evaluation based on the facts you have and then go with the trade. Just be sure you have a strategy for extricating yourself before losses become big. Had Kim stayed with her original strategy and stop placement, she would have ended up a happy winner instead of a regretful loser.

Taking Too Big a Bite
Biting off more than can be chewed is a weakness of many traders. This form of over trading derives from greed and failing to have clearly defined trading objectives. Trading only to “make money” is not sufficient.

Pete has sold short T-Bonds and is now ahead by a full point. He notes that he is making money on his trade. Feeling very confident and thinking it would be smart to be diversified, he enters a long position in silver futures, and also sells short Call options of wheat which he is sure is headed down. Almost as soon he is in the market, wheat prices explode upward and his Calls are in trouble. Pete buys back the losing short Calls and sells additional Calls on a two-for-one basis at a higher strike price. At the end of the day he looks at other positions. Silver had an intraday reversal leaving a spiked bottom as they close at the high of the day. The T-Bonds have made an inside day, but to Pete they suddenly look weak, he is down a few ticks. At the end of the day, he finds that most of the money he had made on his short T-Bonds was used to buy back the short wheat Call options. He covered those and now has additional premium in his account, but he also has additional risk, and is short Calls in a rising market – not an enviable position. Moreover, he is now worried about his long silver futures based on the fact that silver closed at its lows on what seems to be a genuine reversal. To further aggravate the situation, he has lost confidence in himself. What was once a happy, simple, winning silver long, has now become an ugly, confusing mess, and Pete has a good chance of ending up a loser on all three trades. If Pete keeps over-trading in this fashion, he could end up like the poor fellow in the picture.

What should be done ?

Break every trade into definitive goals. Make sure you achieve those goals before adding other positions. Even with a single short sale of the T-Bonds, Pete could have set himself a goal for the trade. One or two full points might have been all he needed to satisfactorily retire that trade as a winner. Then he could have made his trading decision for an additional position. There are very few traders who can successfully manage multiple positions in a variety of markets.

Overconfidence is a particular kind of trap that springs shut when people have or think they have special information or personal experience, no matter how limited. That's why small traders get hurt trading on no more information than “hot-tips.”

Tim is a farmer. He raises hogs and purchases huge amounts of feed to provide for his hogs. Tim has a large farming operation which is quite profitable. He takes 250 hogs a week to market. Because of a steady flow of hogs from his operation to the market, Tim has no need to hedge his hog business because he is able to dollar average the prices he gets for them. But Tim does want to indirectly reduce the cost of the feed he has to buy, so he purchases soy meal futures. Tim listens to weather and farm reports all day long. He attends meetings of other farmers, and tries to gather all the information he can that might help him be more profitable. But Tim has a major problem, called tunnel vision. When he looks out at the grain fields in the area where he lives, whatever he sees there he extrapolates to the whole world.

In other words, if Tim sees that the surrounding fields are dry, he suspects that all fields everywhere must also be dry. One year Tim witnessed a local drought. He checked with all the local farmers and they said they were truly experiencing drought conditions. He looked at the news on his data feed, and sure enough it said that there was a drought in his area. In fact, the entire state where Tim raises his hogs was undergoing drought.

Tim wasn’t too concerned about his own feed bins. He had plenty of it in his silos from previous bumper crop years. Tim decided to be piggish and speculate on what he considered to be inside information. He called his broker and bought heavily into soy meal futures. Tim was confident. He was sure that soy meal prices would explode upward some time soon, and that he was going to make himself a small fortune. Tim's greed may have turned him into a hog. However, the futures he purchased started moving down and the value of his investment began to shrink markedly. What Tim failed to do was to have a broader perspective. Everywhere else that grains were grown, farmers were experiencing rain in due season. The drought was localized almost entirely within the state in which Tim did his hog raising. Tim lost because he was confident in the limited knowledge he had.
What should be done?

We all need to broaden our horizons. We need a humble attitude relative to the markets. We can never afford to wallow in overconfidence in what we perceive as special knowledge. A trader can never afford to let his guard down. Tim thought he knew something that others hadn’t yet caught onto. In so doing, Tim made another mistake as well. He heard only what he wanted to hear.

Hearing What You Want to Hear – Seeing What You Want to See
Marketers call this preferential bias. Preferential bias exists among traders. Once they develop a preference for a trade, they often distort additional information to support their view. This is why an otherwise conscientious trader may choose to ignore what the market is really doing. We've seen traders convince themselves that a market was going up when, in fact, it was in an established downtrend. We’ve seen traders poll their friends and brokers until they obtained an opinion that agreed with their own, and then enter a trade based upon that opinion.

A student of ours, Fran and her husband, John, decided they wanted to go to live in the Missouri Ozarks. Everyone told them that there was no way for them to make a living there.

Everyone they asked advised them not to do it.

Finally, a minister in the Church they proposed to attend told them that they were to serve there. Out of twenty or thirty people they asked, that minister was the only one who told them to come. Of course, it was exactly what they wanted to hear. They sold their home and most of their possessions accumulated over a lifetime. They moved to the Ozarks and went broke within a year. They had to leave and begin all over again. John, who had been semi-retired, now had to find a job. So did Fran. She had to give up a promising start as a trader to go out to put food on the table.

What should be done?

Look at each trade objectively. Do not allow yourself to become married to your opinion. Learn to recognize the difference between what you see, what you feel, and what you think. Then, throw out what you think. Lock out the input of others once you have made up your mind. Don't let your broker tell you what you want to hear. Never ask your broker, your friends, or your relatives for an opinion. Turn off your TV or radio, you don't need to see or hear what they have to say. Take all indicators off your chart and just look at the price bars. If you still see a trade there, then go for it.

Fearing Losses
There is a huge difference between being risk averse and fearing losses. You must hate to lose. In fact, you can program your brain to find ways to not lose. But not losing is a logical thought-out process, rather than an emotion-based reaction.

Two human -based tendencies come into play. The first is the sunk-cost fallacy and the second is the exaggerated-loss syndrome.

Sunk-cost fallacy: You are in a trade that begins to go against you. You reason that you have already spent a commission, so you have costs to make up for. Moreover, you have spent time and effort researching and planning this trade. You reckon that time and effort as cost. You have waited for just such an opportunity and you are afraid that now that it has come you will have to miss this trade. The time spent waiting for opportunity is something you also count as cost. You don't want to waste all these costs, so you decide to give the trade a little more room. By the time you realize what you’ve done, the pain is almost overwhelming. Finally, you have to take your loss which is now much larger than it might have been. The size of the loss adds to your fear of ever losing again. The end result is brain lock and inability to pull the trigger on a trade.

Exaggerated-loss syndrome: You give the importance of losing on a trade two to three times the weight of winning on a trade. In your mind, losses have greater significance than wins. In reality, neither is more or less important than the other. In fact, wins do not have to be as numerous as losses as long as the wins are significantly larger in size than the losses. Of course, best is to have more wins than losses with the wins greater in size than the losses.

What should be done?

Evaluate your trades solely on their potential for future loss or gain. Ask yourself, “what do I stand to gain from this trade, and what do I stand to lose from this trade?” Think the matter through. “What is the worst thing that can happen to me if I take this trade, and do I have a plan and a strategy for extricating myself long before it happens?” “If I begin to lose, is there a way I can turn things around and come out a winner?” Learn to look at the costs of a trade as part of your business overhead. Try to have a mind set that you will not throw good money after bad. When you give a trade more room, you are doing just that – often throwing away money.

Valuing invested money More Than won money
Traders have a tendency to be more careless with money they’ve won than with money they’ve invested. Just because you won money on good trades doesn’t mean you should gamble with that money. People are more willing to take chances with money they perceive as winnings as though it were found money. They forget that money is money. Valuing money depending on where it comes from can lead to unfortunate consequences for a trader. The tendency to take greater risk with money made from trades than with money invested as capital makes no sense. Yet traders will take risks with money won in the markets that they would never dream about with money from their savings account.

What should be done?

Wait awhile before placing at risk money won on trades. Keep your trading account at a constant level. Strip your winnings from your account and put them in a safe conservative place. The longer you hold on to money, the more likely you are to consider it your own.

Forgetting About Margin Inflation
Before the crash of 1987, S&P 500 stock index futures carried an exchange minimum margin of about $12,000 . Immediately after the crash, margins required by some brokers rose to $36,000 and higher.

A trader we know, called Willie, figured that if prices on an index he was short went down, he would continually add to his position whenever prices first pulled back and then broke out to new lows. The index he was trading became very volatile, and his broker raised margins to by 1/3 rd. Willie was trading a small account, and when he tried to sell short additional contracts onto his already short position, his broker would not allow him to do so. Willie complained bitterly, but the broker was adamant in his refusal. The broker would not allow Willie to use unrealized paper profits to cover the additional margin required for adding on. He explained to Willie that to do so would in effect allow Willie to build a pyramid position and that was not going to be allowed by the broker's firm.

The mistake Willie was making was what some call the “money illusion.” Willie assumed that because his position was moving in his favor that he had more selling power and more margin. His broker quickly brought Willie face to face with reality. While some brokers may allow it, unrealized paper profits do not truly constitute additional funds that may be used for margin. Willie’s dream of fabulous profits from this trade were just that, a dream. Willie should be thankful that his broker did not allow him to get in trouble. Pyramiding with unearned paper profits is not the way to succeed as a futures trader.

What should be done?

You should realize that each so-called “add-on” to an open position is really a whole new position. Each add-on carries all new risk, and each add-on brings you closer to the add-on trade which will fail and become a loser. When planning a trade, be aware that if the market becomes volatile, margin requirements may go up, thereby defeating any strategy for adding on to your position. There is nothing wrong with building a position one leg at time as prices ascend or descend, but when volatility dictates an increase in margin requirements, beware of trying to add on and be aware that you may not be able to add on.

Option sellers can quickly get into similarly difficult positions. As they roll out to new strikes to defend a threatened short options position, they can find themselves not only facing the need for a larger position, but also facing increased margins in creating that larger position. They may discover that they no longer have sufficient margin to defend a particular position and thus have to eat a sizable loss.

Throughout our courses we mention some key mistakes commonly made by traders. Here are a few more:

Error: Confusing trading with investing. Many traders justify taking trades because they think they have to keep their money working. While this may be true of money with which you invest, it is not at all true concerning money with which you speculate. Unless you own the underlying commodity, for instance, selling short is speculation, and speculation is not investment. Although it is possible, you generally do not invest in futures. A trader does not have to be concerned with making his money work for him. A trader’s concern is making a wise and timely speculation, keeping his losses small by being quick to get out, and maximizing profits by not staying in too long, i.e., to a point where he is giving back more than a small percent of what he has already gained.

Error: Copying other people’s trading strategies. A floor trader I know tells about the time he tried to copy the actions of one of the bigger, more experienced floor traders. While the floor trader won, my friend lost. Trading copycats rarely come out ahead. You may have a different set of goals than the person you are copying. You may not be able to mentally or emotionally tolerate the losses his strategy will encounter. You may not have the depth of trading capital the person you are copying has. This is why following a futures trading (not investing) advisory while at the same time not using your own good judgment seldom works in the long run. Some of the best traders have had advisories, but their subscribers usually fail. Trading futures is so personalized that it is almost impossible for two people to trade the same way.

Error: Ignoring the downside of a trade. Most traders, when entering a trade, look only at the money they think they will make by taking the trade. They rarely consider that the trade may go against them and that they could lose. The reality is that whenever someone buys a futures contract, someone else is selling that same futures contract. The buyer is convinced that the market will go up. The seller is convinced that the market has finished going up. If you look at your trades that way, you will become a more conservative and realistic trader.

Error: Expecting each trade to be the one that will make you rich. When we tell people that trading is speculative, they argue that they must trade because the next trade they take may be the one that will make them a ton of money. What people forget is that to be a winner, you can't wait for the big trade that comes along every now and then to make you rich. Even when it does come along, there is no guarantee that you will be in that particular trade. You will earn more and be able to keep more if you trade with objectives and are satisfied with regular small to medium size wins. A trader makes his money by getting his share of the day-to-day price action of the markets. That doesn't mean you have to trade every day. It means that when you do trade, be quick to get out if the trade doesn’t go your way within a period of time that you set beforehand. If the trade does go your way, protect it with a stop and hang on for the ride.

Error: Having profit expectations that are too high. The greatest disappointments come when expectations are unrealistically high. Many traders get into trouble by anticipating greater than reasonable profits from their trading. They will often get into a trade and, when it goes their way and they are winning, they will mentally start spending their winnings, and may even borrow against their anticipated winnings to take on additional risk. Reality is that you seldom make all of the money available in a trade. I cannot count the times that I had for the taking hundreds or thousands of dollars in unrealized paper profits only to see most of those profits melt away before I was able to or had the good sense to get out. One trader I know had $700 per contract profits in a short eurodollar trade. The next day his position literally imploded on news of a 50 basis point cut in interest rates. He was lucky to get out with $350 per contract. The money from trading often doesn’t come in as fast or as plentifully as you have expected or been led to believe, but the overhead costs of trading arrive right on schedule. False profit expectations have caused aspiring traders to leave their job before they were really successful. The same false hope causes them to lose the money of friends and family. False hope causes them to borrow against their home and other fixed assets. Too high expectations are dangerous to the well-being of every trader and those around him.

Error: Not reviewing your financial goals. Before you make a position trading decision, or before you begin a day of day trading, review your motives and your goals.

Why are you trading today?
Why are you taking this trade?
How will it move your closer to your goals and objectives?
Error: Taking a trade because it seems like the right thing to do now. Some of the saddest calls we get come from traders who do not know how to manage a trade. By the time they call, they are deep in trouble. They have entered a trade because, in their opinion or someone else’s opinion, it was the right thing to do. They thought that following the dictates of opinion was shrewd. They haven’t planned the trade, and worse, they haven’t planned their actions in the event the trade went against them. Just because a market is hot and making a major move is no reason for you to enter a trade. Sometimes, when you don’t fully understand what is happening, the wisest choice is to do nothing at all. There will always be another trading opportunity. You do not have to trade.

Error: Taking too much risk. With all the warnings about risk contained in the forms with which you open your account, and with all the required warnings in books, magazines, and many other forms of literature you receive as a trader, why is it so hard to believe that trading carries with it a tremendous amount of risk? It’s as though you know on an intellectual basis that trading futures is risky, but you don’t really take it to heart and live it until you find yourself caught up in the sheer terror of a major losing trade. Greed drives traders to accept too much risk. They get into too many trades. They put their stop too far away. They trade with too little capital. We’re not advising you to avoid trading futures. What we’re saying is that you should embark on a sound, disciplined trading plan based on knowledge of the futures markets in which you trade, coupled with good common sense.

Joe Ross

169 posts
msg #57902
Ignore betyerbottomdollar
12/10/2007 6:04:45 PM

Hey TRO, what is your opinion on the stop loss?

More often than not, I have found that a stop merely locks in my loss than saves me from the bottom falling out. But at the same time I find everyone shouting from the top of the mountiain about the importance of setting stops.

To be honest, I have lost more $$ than saved with a stop loss.

Anyone else find that to be true?

622 posts
msg #57903
Ignore luc1grunt
12/10/2007 6:14:51 PM

BBD, I think it really depends on the stock, the volatility, and the ADR. I only place stops when I cannot monitor a swing or longer term trade. And then with some analysis and breathing room. Placing a stop in a volatile market intra-day is just asking to picked off. Better off with a quick finger and a mental stop. That assuming the trader has the discipline to execute it.

6,370 posts
msg #57904
Ignore TheRumpledOne
12/10/2007 6:16:55 PM


But there comes a time when you need to stop the bleeding.

In live trading, the exits/stops are "natural".. the chart tells you through lower lows and red candles that price is going down... you can't swim upstream!!

If you wait long enough, the price may return to where you entered.


169 posts
msg #57906
Ignore betyerbottomdollar
12/10/2007 7:01:30 PM

Anything can happen, you are right.

I am holding BIDZ at 40% less than I bought it for a coupla weeks ago. That isn't because I didn't set a stop, it is because I got greedy and intentionally skipped my sell signal to see if it would go higher. Oops.

In that case I can see why it would be good to have a stop. But half the time I would have locked in my losses had I used one.

2,824 posts
msg #57909
Ignore nikoschopen
12/10/2007 7:16:41 PM

.. the chart tells you through lower lows and red candles that price is going down... you can't swim upstream!!

Nah, just go long at open + 0.1 and short at open - 0.1.

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