Considering the real value of the contract as of today is roughly 1400 * 50 = 70,000 USD, I would suggest that 10-15k per contract is still absolutely plenty, giving you 7:1 leverage.
Of course, most newbies just want the lowest margin broker they can find, so they can blow out their account faster.
You are asking the wrong question. You are asking "How much money can I make". You should be asking "How much money can I lose?", and that question then leads you to using smart risk decisions, such as not risking more than 1% of your account value in any given trade.
If your account size is 25,000 and you want to use a 5 point stop on the ES, then 5 points * 50 dollars/point = $250 stop per trade, which is 1% of 25,000 account. So to trade 1 contract, you need 25,000.
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Anyway, that makes common sense. Im with IB, who requires 4k these days, but I'm more thinking of stocking up 10 before even thinking about going live. No, i'm definitely not looking for those cheap subistitute brokers. I read to much about those on forums.
Unless you have a methodology that is specific to ES, you could open and trade a micro Forex account, and trade very small lots. Of course the more you delay your actual live trading, the more time you'll have to develop a profitable methodology in sim, as long as you can treat the sim like you would treat live trades (that is something I was never able do)
I have a micro Forex account with MB Trading. The commissions are a small percentage of your lot size, with no minimum fee, so commissions are extremely cheap until you start approaching the 50,000 lot size, at that point the commissions become at par with other brokers, and greater then that they actually get more expensive the other brokers. So for learning with small size they make a lot of sense.
My only issue is that, like many Forex brokers, I suspect there may be some funny business with the executions. I have seen many times the market trade through my target price by several ticks, and I did not get a fill. Also, their order management interface is dog slow. It will sometimes take 5 or 6 seconds before their interface actually completes modifying orders. If you are scalper and need quick response when you move your stops etc., that can be a problem. The above 2 issues makes it impractical for scalping for a few pips, but for larger move, longer term methods, I think it's a good and inexpensive approach for learning, or experimenting in the live market.
Last edited by monpere; April 14th, 2012 at 09:54 AM.