William Eckhardt is one of the most consistently successful CTAs in futures trading, and along with Richard Dennis, is the founder of the Turtles. It was Eckhardt that bet Dennis that successful trading could not be taught, and it was this bet that gave birth to the Turtle Trading Program. Although he lost the wager with Dennis, Eckhardt went on to be an immensely successful CTA, and is regarded by many as one of the best futures traders.
“If a betting game among a certain number of participants is played long enough, eventually one player will have all the money. If there is any skill involved, it will accelerate the process of concentrating all the stakes in a few hands. Something like this happens in the market. There is a persistent overall tendency for equity to flow from the many to the few. In the long run, the majority loses. The implication for the trader is that to win you have to act like the minority. If you bring normal human habits and tendencies to trading, you’ll gravitate toward the majority and inevitably lose.” – William Eckhardt
“It’s much easier to learn what you should do in trading than to do it. Good systems tend to violate normal human tendencies.” – William Eckhardt
“One common adage on this subject that is completely wrongheaded is: you can’t go broke taking profits. That’s precisely how many traders do go broke. While amateurs go broke by taking large losses, professionals go broke by taking small profits. The problem in a nutshell is that human nature does not operate to maximize gain but rather to maximize the chance of gain. The desire to maximize the number of winning trades (or minimize the number of losing trades) works against the trader. The success rate of trades is the least important performance statistic and may even be inversely related to performance.” – William Eckhardt
“The people who survive avoid snowball scenarios in which bad trades cause them to become emotionally destabilized and make more bad trades. They are also able to feel the pain of losing. If you don’t feel the pain of a loss, then you’re in the same position as those unfortunate people who have no pain sensors. If they leave their hand on a hot stove, it will burn off. There is no way to survive in the world without pain. Similarly, in the markets, if the losses don’t hurt, your financial survival is tenuous.” – William Eckhardt
“I know of a few multimillionaires who started trading with inherited wealth. In each case, they lost it all because they didn’t feel the pain when they were losing. In those formative first few years of trading, they felt they could afford to lose. You’re much better off going into the market on a shoestring, feeling that you can’t afford to lose. I’d rather bet on somebody starting out with a few thousand dollars than on somebody who came in with millions.” – William Eckhardt
“In many ways, large profits are even more insidious than large losses in terms of emotional destabilization. I think it’s important not to be emotionally attached to large profits. I’ve certainly made some of my worst trades after long periods of winning. When you’re on a big winning streak, there’s a temptation to think that you’re doing something special, which will allow you to continue to propel yourself upward. You start to think that you can afford to make shoddy decisions. You can imagine what happens next. As a general rule, losses make you strong and profits make you weak.” – William Eckhardt
“If you’re playing for emotional satisfaction, you’re bound to lose, because what feels good is often the wrong thing to do. Richard Dennis used to say, somewhat facetiously, “If it feels good, don’t do it.” In fact, one rule we taught the Turtles was: When all the criteria are in balance, do the thing you least want to do. You have to decide early on whether you’re playing for the fun or for the success. Whether you measure it in money or in some other way, to win at trading you have to be playing for the success.” – William Eckhardt
“Trading is also highly addictive. When behavioral psychologists have compared the relative addictiveness of various reinforcement schedules, they found that intermittent reinforcement – positive and negative dispensed randomly (for example, the rat doesn’t know whether it will get pleasure or pain when it hits the bar) – is the most addictive alternative of all, more addictive than positive reinforcement only. Intermittent reinforcement describes the experience of the compulsive gambler as well as the future trader. The difference is that, just perhaps, the trader can make money.” However, as with most affective aspects of trading, its addictiveness constantly threatens ruin. Addictiveness is the reason why so many players who make fortunes leave the game broke.” – William Eckhardt
“Don’t think about what the market’s going to do; you have absolutely no control over that. Think about what you’re going to do if it gets there. In particular, you should spend no time at all thinking about those rosy scenarios in which the market goes your way, since in those situations, there’s nothing more for you to do. Focus instead on those things you want least to happen and on what your response will be.” – William Eckhardt
Last edited by tigertrader; October 20th, 2010 at 09:02 PM.
The following 20 users say Thank You to tigertrader for this post:
I had read about the turtle traders in a mgazine article sometime ago. It had slipped my mind until i saw a reference to it. I decided to search it here on futures.io (formerly BMT)'s and this was the only thread that popped up. With the importance of psychology in trading, i am suprised that more attention was not given to the turtles. I am not surprised that TIGER was the OP.
THe lessons are simple but profound. I just ordered a book about the turtles. Can't wait for it to arrive. The quote about pain resonates with me as because of my small account I certainly feel pain on the losses. I think more about preserving capital than winning it. I am in the process of learnng how to lose. One day i willl learn how to win.
I want to thank Big Mike and all of the participants for taking the time to share thoughts and knowledge regarding trading.
The best money I have spent other than the losses in live trades has been the Benji I dropped on futures.io (formerly BMT)'s. I'll be sure to share what i learn from "THe complete Turtle Trader"
"Napoleans severest comment on his beaten enemies - that they "saw to many things at once""- Hart
The following user says Thank You to bourgeois pig for this post:
I haven't read the Complete Turtle Trader but I would recommend Curtis Faith's books. He was the most successful of the Turtle Traders. Especially the first and third (last) ones, Way of the Turtle and Trading from the Gut. It is interesting how he went from a pure system trader to also considering the importance of intuition.