I would suggest, do both. Learn to identify those places in the market where you expect a larger turn to happen. Then, zoom in on a smaller time frame chart, and wait for a minor reversal to happen in the direction that you expect the eventual "big turn" to go. Enter on a scalp, and get out with 1/2 your position once you are in a decent profit. Move the other 1/2 to break-even. If it runs on that move, you will turn the other half into a larger profit. If it doesn't, you get stopped out on the second half at break-even but overall are still profitable because you made something on the first half scalp. Keep scalping like this in the direction of the coming major turn, until the run starts to happen. Also, keep monitoring price action that may tell you if you were wrong about your initial thoughts about the direction of the coming major turn. If you change your mind and think that it actually might go the other way on the larger time frame, just start scalping in the other direction using the same method. You should also have a plan for how you are going to trail your stop when the market starts to run... go over past data and see how far it pulls back when it does run, and how long runs usually last. Set up some charts based on this information that will allow you to easily follow the trend when it does start to go.
The following 4 users say Thank You to FBJS for this post:
Some things that I forgot to add regarding this method:
Make sure that you only enter in spots where you have a better than 50/50 chance of making money with your scalp. If your odds are only 50/50 assuming a 1:1 ratio of gain:loss, it will be a losing strategy since you will lose 2 contracts on a stop-out and only make 1 on a win.
Ideally, you should learn to read price action well enough that you actually exit with your full position on a scalp, and then look for re-entry when it comes back. Then when you detect that "the" big move is starting to happen and it's breaking out of the range, get in and hold. Of course this takes practice and experience to detect that condition - so if you can't do that then you can use the original method I mentioned as long as you make sure that you are entering in very choice locations where your risk/reward ratio is very good on your scalp. Then again, I suppose that takes practice as well.... so unfortunately, there are no truly easy answers!
The following user says Thank You to FBJS for this post:
Just because one can not read any books just to talk with you
I've used to see where is gold and where is "not gold"
So, one of the methods is to, say, enter with 2 contract and exit with 2 contract,
if big move is seen, then enter with 1 contract, covered it at usual target profit, but remaining 50 % of position, i.e. 1 contract run along with big movement until it considered ok to be in trade, correct ?
Also question...what is better win/loss ratio for scalp assuming that entry at point where odds better than 50%?
Rather than just holding half my position for a trending move that starts to occur, I would actually tend to enter with additional contracts when I see that happening, because the market is easier to read under those conditions and it's important to "press your advantage" to maximize profits. So for example, if it breaks out of a range with fast trading and high volume, and if I feel that this is one of those times where that run is likely to continue for some time, I will quickly add more contracts to my position to maximize my gains. (Of course, this is all still within the trading plan, I don't add anything too crazy in terms of size, just something larger than normal. You also have to know when it's appropriate to do this and when it's not.) Then as the market moves in my direction, I may scale out slightly from this "larger-than-normal" position at point where I feel that short-term reversals may be happening against the trend, eventually getting myself to a "normal" position size as the trend continues. I will then continue to hold the "normal" position then until a certain condition is reached signifying the end of the trend, usually based on price action and/or crossing certain MAs that I have set up for this purpose. Basically, I don't use a 100% mechanical system for this, it really depends on feeling out the price action.
In terms of playing the range, I am in and out all the time with my full scalping position, since I am usually pretty confident in being able to tell when we will stay in a range and when we are likely to break out. So there is no point in only taking off 1/2 the position and watching the market come back to break even to stop me out when it is just chopping around. You have to be able to change your mental state very quickly between ranging and trending modes if you want to do this, and always be on the look-out for market condition changes that indicate that a trend could be about to occur.
In terms of scalping, unfortunately it's basically a lot of "feel" in terms of when to get in and out...so I don't always have specific conditions where I measure exactly how far it can go and what my loss might be. But I usually try to eyeball it to get at least 1.5:1 or so in terms of reward/risk, and 70% chance of it going my way. HOWEVER - I do NOT set my profit target and stop ahead of time and then just blindly stick to it. Every second that I am in a scalping position, I am always asking myself: "Is this continuing as I expect? Is it going to the other end of the range as I expect? Or do I feel like something is wrong here and it could be turning back down early? On the other hand, is it accelerating a little bit, telling me instead that it could be about to break out?" As I continually ask myself these things, I adjust my stop accordingly, and/or get out of the position because I will never take a loss on a scalp that has moved more than a few ticks in my direction (exactly how much depends on the contract in question and how it is trading). When I feel "nervous" about it stalling, I'll get out quickly or move the stop up to a very tight position. On the other hand if I feel confident about it going further than usual, I may move the stop back a bit to avoid getting knocked out prematurely. It's all based on price feeling and market action under these conditions.
The following 6 users say Thank You to FBJS for this post:
Wow. Ok so I really like your posts but to play devils advocate... I also agree that fear is a huge part of the whole daily goal idea... I didn't even realize it until you said it but fear is a huge part of my attraction to daily goals. But let's say you have 5 years of personal trading data and know that over the last three profitable years you average a 1000 a day scaling in and out. Say you are even better than that...2000 a day. This is even after you have managed to build up your account significantly and add more contracts to trade with. Mentally you have come to a risk tolerance level when scaling in and out and you know how many contracts you tend to add scaling in on big trends. You aren't anek and don't have sweet after-the-fact posting skillz so 2000 has become your mental barrier average. Anything over that contract-wise is too much money movement to watch and you are ok with this because 2000 a day is not a bad day. Some days you make like 7000 other days you make 700 because you are very, very good. Wouldn't be better to scalp for 3-5 ticks on a major S/R breakout on the 60 minute or something and be done in like 2 minutes? Then you can go play outside.
The other issue I have is that overtrading leads to more exposure to geopolitical events that aren't on Barron's econ calender (hi websouth!).
So enough with devil's advocate there is a flip side to the daily goal idea to me... Well correction...flip side to high-contract hard-core scalping... You are probably banking more than 2% of your account on one setup hitting your profit target with that many contracts and not hitting your stop which is probably bigger than your target to accept the drawdown. It seems like a sure-fire way to blow up. I can't think of a single pattern, indi, strat, whatev, that has worked everytime for me. You just have to manage every trade differently, and you can't do that with a scalp (I don't know, maybe you can with my 60 min S/R idea, drawdowns acceptable of course). Trading with say a couple of contracts on a trend allows you to manage your risk better. If the market stalls you can take a contract off or get out (should have done that today still stewing). Or if the market is moving you can add another or take one off and bank some profits.
You make an interesting point - what is really "better"? To do some quick scalps or trend trades in the morning and then go enjoy the rest of your day doing something else, or to dedicate yourself to sitting in front of the computer and staying with the market when it is giving you money, regardless of the time involved?
It really depends on your goals. Before you decide what your trading style should be, you should decide why you are trading in the first place. Some people want trading to just be an activity that they do for a couple of hours a day that makes them a nice income of a few hundred thousand a year, so they can go spend time doing other things that they love. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and if you have a system with positive expectancy that can make you a couple of grand a day in about an hour or two, then you should just trade that and take the rest of the day off, if that's what you want. Who cares if the market is still running, you have other things to do with your life besides sit in front of a computer.
There is nothing wrong with this, providing you are quitting trading each day because that is part of your trading plan, and because you just quit all the time at this point. If you quit trading once you hit some artificial daily profit target because you are scared to give back your gains, then that is a very serious problem - not because of missing out on maximizing your profits, but because that fear is a sign that you might not be as good of a trader as you think. Fear is never a good thing to be trading with.
So just make a decision how and when you are going to trade, and then during those times, TRADE. Regardless of what your P/L is, just keep trading until the time is up or you determine that the market conditions are not right for your system any more. There is nothing wrong with quitting early if the market is telling you that today is not a good day to trade, but if it is a great trading day, and if you are still within your normal trading time window, and if you are still making profits, then do not quit just because you are scared to give something back.
Again, nothing wrong with having set times to trade, in order to avoid certain things like you mentioned - as long as that is all part of your plan.
In my case, this is not correct. I never risk more than .5% to 1% of my account. 2% is too high. And my stop is never, ever, bigger than my profit target. At worst it may be 1:1 at certain times, but usually it is better. Sometimes I take what I call a "pure" scalp, which is essentially a counter-trend play. Those times are rare, and I usually only do that when I think that the market is seriously overextended or I see a high probability opportunity. In those cases, I make sure to get out very fast and be quick on the trigger. Most scalps are in the direction of a trend, and I always enter with the idea that it's going to turn into a longer move... however, sometimes it just doesn't for whatever reason, and in those cases it turns out to be a scalp. I am in and out of the market all the time generally.
I do manage every trade differently. Based on the price action, I move the stop around constantly... sometimes up tight, sometimes looser. Sometimes I'll place a limit order at a set price beyond the market to get out, sometimes I'll place a limit order in between the bid/ask spread (if there is room there), and sometimes I'll manually get out with a market order if I really don't like it. (Keep in mind that this is done using primarily a 5 second and a 20 second chart, with a 2 minute chart as the long time frame. You can't do this type of thing on an hourly chart, or even a 5 minute. Also, keep in mind that this type of short-term scalping relies primarily on reading pure price action - you generally can't make money on these types of short time frames using indicators for your buy/sell signals.)
Generally this is all during choppy times, of course. In reality most money is made in strong trends, not in ranges. But unless you are always watching the market and aware of what is going on, you are going to miss the early start of trends. I spend time scalping not to make a lot of money there, but to be "in tune" with the market to be ready for the eventual trends that occur. Sometimes it gets boring and I walk away, and sometimes I'll miss the exact start of a trend because of that... it's not 100% perfect.
Trend trading is definitely the way to make money, no question... but the market isn't going to hold up a sign for you saying "get ready for a trend in 5 minutes". By being "in tune" with what is going on at all times, I can detect small changes in price action that indicate that a trend is about to begin, which improves my risk/reward ratio in general. The real trick is to avoid overtrading, of course. On a bad day I might overtrade a bit and end up breaking even for a while in a choppy zone, but I generally won't lose much. If I ever did start to lose steadily, I would immediately quit and walk away (which has happened once or twice). You have to be able to limit the damage to your account very, very quickly when you detect that you are not doing things correctly for whatever reason. (Actually, I would say that this ability is one of the most important things to know how to do as a trader... if you find it hard to walk away when you are starting to make mistakes and your account equity starts to decline, your trading career is going to be in VERY serious trouble.)
Just decide what you want to do... it sounds to me like you don't want to sit in front of your computer monitor for 14 hours a day trying to maximize your profits. (Most people who try that don't even end up maximizing their profits anyways, they just make money and then give it back.) So just trade according to whatever plan you have set up that you feel comfortable with, but don't set a daily profit goal - just set a time frame where you will always continue to trade the market as long as it is giving you money, and then stick to it.
Last edited by FBJS; January 14th, 2010 at 02:01 PM.
The following 6 users say Thank You to FBJS for this post: