When backtesting I always require price to go at least 1 tick beyond limit orders to consider the limit order as filled. However, in live trading I've seen a number of times that my chart does not show price going beyond my limit order but yet it is filled. What is the real deal here? Something I've always wondered but would like to know the real reason why this happens.
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Live cash, or live sim?
If it's live cash like bukkan said, it's FIFO so the level does not have to be penetrated for you to get filled, depending on your position in the order queue.
If it's live sim, then NT is just trying to be smart and estimating whether you would have got filled by looking at how many orders were in the queue at the time your order was submitted, and will count it as 'filled' once that number of orders has been filled at that level.
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This is one of the major difference between Futures and Forex. On the Forex market to be filled, price would need to go the size of the spread passed your limit order. This is not necessarily the case with Futures as others have mentionnned.
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For the reasons mentioned if you are back testing or sim trading you should tend towards conservatism in the level that you get filled to avoid having a false view especially if you're in positions for relatively shorter intervals (e.g., scalps).
This is also why many traders do not rely too much on sim, because in many examples it does not reflect the real markets well. In my opinion only I'd recommend using it as a blunt tool to test rather than a precision measure of a strat, algo, etc unless as stated you're looking at much higher timeframes.