I’ve decided to officially support Big Mike’s Trading Forum. I believe this site offers real value to traders at all levels and I want to contribute to wealth of knowledge and support offered here because I believe in paying forward the amazing support I received from others during my trading journey.
When I was new to trading, several experienced profitable traders generously tried to help me. I paid lip service to their suggestions, but didn’t put their advice into action because I was quite hard-headed and certain that I could develop and implement a trading method far better than theirs. By the time I finally re-invented the wheel about 10,000 hours and tens of thousands of dollars later, I realized they had given me everything I ever needed from the start.
And that’s where my handle originates. In the story The Wizard of Oz, young Dorothy laments her dreary, unfair life in Kansas, and longs to fly over the rainbow where skies are blue and dreams come true. She's transported to the magical Land of Oz during a severe tornado. Once there, a pair of ruby slippers from the dead Wicked Witch of the East is placed on Dorothy’s feet by Glinda, the good witch of the North, who tells Dorothy to never let them go because they’re very powerful.
After frightening adventures in Oz culminating in the near loss of her life, Dorothy realizes more than ever that she had a very good life and wonderful family back in Kansas. All she wants is to get back home as quickly as possible. She finally gains access to the Wizard of Oz who is supposed to be the one who can help her get back home (finally, the magic indicator, the perfect strategy, the Holy Grail), only to find that he’s a big fake.
But amidst her deep disappointment, she finds that those ruby slippers given to her by Glinda (those simple basic concepts given to me by my casual mentors) are all she needs to get home. The whole time, she had everything she needed to get what she wanted most; she had but to learn how to use them, had but to click the heels of those slippers together three times and think to herself, “There’s no place like home.”
“Ruby Slippers” is for me the symbol of the concept of the Trader’s Mindset. (If you haven't read Mark Douglas's books, I strongly recommend them.) Everything you need to become consistently profitable is right in front of you. There are edges being shared everywhere: in books, in webinars, in forums like this.
An edge is nothing more than a greater chance of one thing happening over another. You can assimilate someone else’s strategy or you can find your own through careful statistical analysis. Once you find a positive expectancy strategy, you have but to “click your heels together three times” to achieve the desired outcome of consistent profitability. Successful trading is simply a matter of taking advantage of favorable odds by becoming the casino instead of the gambler, by playing every hand the market deals you and following the house rules. Yet this "simple" final step is often a seemingly insurmountable hurdle because the trading environment requires you to think and act in a way that's very counter-intuitive to basic human nature and to the programming most of us have received since childhood.
I’d like to contribute to Big Mike’s Trading Forum by offering advice (real actions steps) to struggling traders based on my own trading experiences that eventually led to consistently profitable trading.
My main trading instrument is crude oil (I'm sure other oil traders will appreciate my “rubyslippage” variant), and I’m an intraday scalper (meaning I rarely hold a position through retraces on a 1-min/70-tick chart). I also have experience swing trading equities and day trading ES and 6E.
If you’re struggling with finding an edge, developing a plan, or achieving the trader’s mindset necessary to profiting from your existing plan, feel free to write Dear Ruby a letter
The following 23 users say Thank You to rubyslippage for this post:
I've been a full time, struggling trader for over 3 years. I've spent thousands on chat rooms, guru's, and indicators. For the past several weeks I've been focusing on pure price action, removing everything from my charts, and in the past week, I've even removed the EMA's. I'm having some measure of success with this, and am encouraged by my initial results. Plus it feels great to know I'm doing it myself and not relying on some indicator to tell me what to do. I'm trading a 5 minute chart and taking entry's from the 1 minute chart in CL.
Here are my current obstacles:
First, I'm not sure of the trading style I should be pursuing. I really love the focus it takes to be a scalper, but I'm often frustrated when I only take 10 or 15 ticks out of a 40+ tick run. Part of me says to hold it for what I believe should be the target, and part of me wants to take the money and run. When I do hold, often I'll get 10 ticks or so, only to be stopped out BE. Then I'm mad for not taking the 10 when I had it.
Second, I appear to be afraid of success. I take the first few trades of the day fearlessly, but when I find myself up modestly, I freeze on subsequent trades, with the fear of giving it back.
I recognize these problems are all in my head, but hope you can offer some suggestions on slaying these demons.
BTW, thanks for joining this community.
The following user says Thank You to Tiger45 for this post:
Good to hear that you're forging your own plan using price action concepts. I've found that the major advantages of trading based on price action concepts are that it's effective in a variety of market environments - bull, bear, range, and trend - and there are clear "lines in the sand" beyond which the risk:reward balance becomes unfavorable to you and so you can implement strict trade management rules.
The more precision and clarity in your trading plan, the better, especially when you're still early in process of developing the trader's mindset. Clear up ambiguity with cleanly defined filters and remove discretion from the mix at this point.
The two problems you're dealing with are very common. I still fight these demons regularly, but as you work through these issues, it gradually gets easier.
I don't believe it's a "fear of success" that's causing you to get protective, rather it's a fear of losing something that doesn't come all that easily for you yet. You don't have enough experience trading with a strong "casino" mindset and so you're placing big value on your "paychecks". When you collect a paycheck that meets a minimum requirement for you, the market can't take it from you unless you gamble with it. Putting on the next trade suddenly feels like a gamble because there's a chance you could lose what you just gained. Intellectually you may know that the chance that any given trade will reach profit A before stopping you out at loss B is 60% over any series of trades, but your natural instinct to maintain the pleasurable feeling of being "right" and extracting money from the market kicks in and your mind suddenly feeds you reasons why a valid setup should be skipped.
I call it the "Yeah, but..." syndrome as in "Yeah, that's a valid long signal, but [it's run too far; the bar's too wide; there's news in 20 minutes; I haven't had my morning bowel movement yet...]
Most traders have experienced the opposite effect when in a draw down. Suddenly patience and discipline goes out the window and all that matters is "getting back" what the market "took away". You find yourself trading anything that moves, averaging down, moving/removing a stop loss, turning a day trade into a swing trade, etc. based on what you're thinking and feeling instead of what your business plan dictates, and the result can sometimes be devastating when playing with leverage.
These issues are two sides of the same coin and both can erode a trading account, one slowly and the other quickly.
The action steps I recommend for you are:
1. Choose a trading style. You "really love the focus it takes to be a scalper". Maintaining focus is one of the most difficult things about day trading and you really love it! So build on that positive characteristic and choose to be a scalper for 30 days. The feeling of ringing the cash register frequently and seeing the profits add up will cause your confidence to grow. Decide on a precise number of ticks to take on every trade and embrace that profit target for the 30 day period. Just take the fixed small profit and no matter how much further price runs, wait patiently for the next valid setup. "Part of me says to hold it for what I believe should be the target, and part of me wants to take the money and run. When I do hold, often I'll get 10 ticks or so, only to be stopped out BE. Then I'm mad for not taking the 10 when I had it." You're seeking perfection in a field of uncertainty. By pursuing perfection, you're actually ending up with less than what's possible for you as a trader:
2. Make sure you set up a scalping plan that your risk:reward ratio allows. If you have a 50:50 win rate and need 2x reward, don't mess with that R:R. Carefully apply your scalping plan rules to 2-3 weeks of past charts to make sure it allows for a viable edge.
3. Tally the daily results of this 2-3 week period so you have a benchmark against which to compare your actual daily results for the next 30 days. At the end of each day's trading session, evaluate your performance against an optimal performance. You may want to set up a grading system based on such things as percentage of valid setups you traded and percentage of trades you managed according to plan.
Something else that may be helpful is to note - at the exact moment you put on the trade (not after the fact) - the profit target you'd hold for if using specific price action levels instead of a fixed scalper's target and compare the results to your scalping results. That way you're not using hindsight bias to assume you shoulda/coulda/woulda managed a trade a certain way.
The following 12 users say Thank You to rubyslippage for this post:
Thanks Ruby, I'll stick with the 10 tick targets for now and see where it leads. As for my fear of giving back profits, it occurred to me this afternoon the 'simple' fix is to not look at the P & L at all until after I'm done trading. Wonder if I can do that...
The following user says Thank You to Tiger45 for this post:
Not so much a letter rather a question. What are some of the top daytraders you know of averaging per day in terms of average daily range? I don't mean what is their goal, or what is their target for the day, but what are they actually doing on average in terms of what is available each day? Are they averaging 5% of the ADR, 10%, 20%, more/less?
Thanks in advance and happy to see Ruby at futures.io (formerly BMT)!
That's an interesting question, indeed! I've never asked any of the traders I know about this. Your question would make an interesting thread in and of itself.
Since there are so many variables involved based on the type of day trading you do, to me the best way to evaluate performance is to do end of day comparisons of your trading plan (your strategies with standard trade management) against your actual performance. That's what I do on most days. I think it's more important to know whether you're getting the most out of your personal trading plan, than to compare your performance to others, most of whom probably trade quite differently from you.
As for futures.io (formerly BMT), what a garden of valuable and profitable trading info this is! Kudos to Big Dawg!
The following 2 users say Thank You to rubyslippage for this post:
Thought I'd give you an update on my progress and ask for advice on the next step of the journey.
Last week I removed the P & L from my DOM and didn't look at it at all during my trading day. The fear of increasing my loss on the day or giving back winnings was greatly diminished as I concentrated on trading. Although the week was disappointing in terms of results (down 47 ticks, including 1 day where I was down 46 ticks), I did learn something and feel better for doing it. Thank you for that.
I need to review my journal for the week and see what I did wrong (and right), which brings me to my next hurdle. Over the years, there have been at least two recurring recommendations that I've constantly ignored: Pick one setup and become a master at it, and focus on the process and not the outcome.
For the record, I do not have a written, well tested trading plan, and I want to solve this very badly. This is due in part to my desire to see everything in black and white, making nuanced situations difficult to categorize and document, and my ADD brain that tries to see every trade setup and document everything whenever I start doing serious back testing (I want to catch everything).
To solve this problem, my goal for the coming week is to trade only 1 setup regardless of whatever else I see, and to take that setup every time it is valid, while documenting the heck out of it. The biggest obstacle I see is the discretionary part of it all. Analyzing market context involves discretion. How do you reconcile 'take every valid setup' and 'it's valid if it the market context is right' if there's discretion involved?
Thanks for your help,
The following user says Thank You to Tiger45 for this post:
I've had the privilege of watching several experienced, consistently profitable traders trade in real time. They couldn't be more different in their strategies: Bob traded against strong trends and averaging down was an integral part of his strategy; Greg traded strictly in the direction of a trending move, letting price sweep him into positions via initiating stop orders with a 2:1 target/stop bracket order that took care of the result; Jan was a price action scalper who traded all in/all out using two time frames to pinpoint precision entries that allowed super tight stops; Sam was a micro scalper who used price action concepts to exploit quick price reactions that most traders would describe as “noise”.
As different as they all were, the one thing they had in common was a core strategy and a specific rules for trading it.
Here are some of the questions I asked them and the answers I got:
Q. Why don’t you move your stop to break even at some point; why let price come .01 from your target and then stop you out for a loss?
A. After eight years of experience and statistical analysis, I found that using a fixed stop and target produces the best result over time. I’ve had trades come .01 from my stop and end up hitting my target. It’s a slippery slope to start messing around with this.
Q. Price came just .02 from your offer and now it’s dropping like a rock. Why didn’t you jump in when it started moving down?
A. I spent 10 years developing the program that provides my entry signals and prices and I have to trust my system. I don’t worry about it because another boat will always come along.
Q. Why did you take just 8 ticks profit on that trade when price was about to test the high of day and likely to break out?
A. That was my target on the trade.
Q. How the heck do you trade 6E with a 6 pip stop? That’s not possible, you’ll be stopped out of every trade!
A. He interrupts the one who says it can’t be done (me), by actually doing it in real time.
These examples demonstrate how experienced traders extract profits consistently over a series of trades by doing the same thing over and over again really, really well. There’s no need to “improve” their systems because their systems work and require no discretion to generate profits.
As a result of all these observations, and my own progress as a trader (I chose a single core idea and built a plan around it), I now advise aspiring traders to choose a single setup and master it. Mastering it means defining it precisely, and developing a set of rules for managing the trades, knowing that you’re “taming” the market’s uncertainty by working within a secure framework based on statistical analysis.
That’s why for you to scalp those 10 ticks that you see occur so frequently will begin to build the confidence that you so badly need when starting out. Does it matter if you scalp just 10 ticks of a huge breakout when you’re tallying up multiple 10-tick gains during the rangier price action? The end result will be similar over time. Sam didn’t care that he took just 8 ticks out of a 50-tick breakout because he likely took 8 ticks profit on 15 other trades that day.
You’ll see all kinds of repeating patterns and can investigate them at your leisure. You’ll read about all sorts of decent trading strategies (especially here on Big Mike’s) and will want to investigate many of them. However, in the meantime, during regular trading hours, you’ll put money in your account on a regular basis by doing one boring thing over and over again.
It’s likely that your struggle with defining setups and context comes from wanting to find some way to exclude all possible losing trades. Define your setup and contextual rules (filters) based on what your statistical analysis shows produces optimal results over a series of trades. Then practice aggressively trading that setup “by the book” so you can experience that surreal feeling of the profit taking care of itself despite your mind’s persistent attempts to “improve” something that works just fine as it is.
The following 20 users say Thank You to rubyslippage for this post: