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Et tu NQ: Trading the Nasdaq e-mini
Started:May 29th, 2011 (05:35 PM) by Bermudan Option Views / Replies:8,473 / 87
Last Reply:April 25th, 2012 (10:55 PM) Attachments:0

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Et tu NQ: Trading the Nasdaq e-mini

Old May 29th, 2011, 05:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
Hyde Park,
Chicago, Illinois
Futures Experience: Intermediate
Broker/Data: Optionhouse
Favorite Futures: Options
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Bermudan Option's Trading

About me
I go by Bermudan Option. The name refers to stock options that have both American style option characteristics and European style option characteristics. The country Bermuda is used to describe this type of option because from a geographical standpoint, the country is located in the ocean between USA and Europe. I like the name because I actually grew up in Bermuda, and also because Bermuda, like me, is draws from a variety of different cultures.

So yeah, I lived in Bermuda for most of my life until I went overseas for college a few years ago. I really enjoyed college life and would gladly learn for the rest of my life, but I couldn't afford the tuition and was not learning towards a career path so I figured it would be economically advantageous to drop out and go back home to work.

However, having had a taste of the college life, I quickly realized how much was lacking in the small town environment, so I saved my money and worked two jobs for a period of time with the goal of moving to greener pastures. A year and a half ago, I saved up enough money and moved to the what was inadvertently one of the financial hubs of the world in Chicago. I didn't know what direction I wanted to take my life other than into the big city, but I had money in my pocket and a clean palette to work with.

After the adventurous initial months in the new, large city, I still had money but the feeling that it was slowly evaporating was lingering so I began looking for employment. Of course, like many other Americans in the recession, the job opportunities were not plentiful. Somewhere along the line, in between applying for ads on, Playstation 3 and channel surfing terrible television morning line-ups, I always gravitated towards Bloomberg TV.

It started simple enough, with analysts reactions to housing numbers and concerns about Quantitative Easing but soon I was watching the station for 5 hours a day and had upgraded from the 'fancy' real-time charts on Google finance, to funding an account for a stand-alone platform on TD Ameritrade.

I had read a book or two about trading and so I didn't blow my account out instantly (or at all for that matter) but it was some poor trading from the start. Things that I can look back and laugh like not knowing the difference between a sell stop and a sell limit order that made me exit positions prematurely or having no gameplan in mind in picking an entry other than a news piece that suggested a potential buyout of a stock in the indefinite future.

I am a firm believer that you can skip the trader tuition if you are well-prepared, so after I ran out of the free trades for funding a new account, I put the live trading on hold and started reading and practicing on the simulator. With the simulator, I traded daily. When I say daily, I am not saying that I checked to see if Apple was up twice a day and then adjust positions at the end of the week.. I mean I set my alarm for 8:15 CT and watched charts and Level II screens until the close.

Within weeks, trading escalated from a hobby to a feasible career path that stayed fresh and challenged me daily. I became addicted. Even though I was only trading on paper, I stopped going out at night because I knew it would lead to oversleeping and missing opportunities at the open. After the markets closed, I did an hour of analysis and reevaluated the market in preparation for the next day. On weekends I would spend half a day gauging the previous week as a whole and create speculative views for the upcoming week.

Don't let the myths about paper trading fool you, it can definitely make you a better trader and if you do it properly it can still feel very real and at times stressful. For me, I set a mandatory goal I had to reach on paper before I could trade live so every loss felt like a real loss coz it was a setback from me trading live and making money. For about 3 months my portfolio bounced around breakeven and below it. I still remember last September vividly... I had finally got some profit on my portfolio after a lot of struggles and drawdowns. I was up something like 2... maybe 3% and all I heard was the analysts online/on TV discussing how toppy and frothy the markets looked. I started loading up on shorts and waited for the markets to crash. It took only two days of average bullishness to wipe out my profits and wind up with a portfolio deep in the red.

Definitely the low point of my trading career so far, because I felt so sure I was turning a corner and then it disappeared so quickly. Luckily, I was right. I took a few weeks off from trading, regrouped and focused on things like sector rotation, money management and position sizing and ended up making +20% profit on non-marginalized stock trading in less than a month and a half.

Ater I reached my trading simulation goal of 20% profit, I went live only to receive a rude awakening regarding the Pattern Day Trading rule and the various pitfalls of being undercapitalized in a financial market.I didn't blow my account or anything drastic, but I stopped trading live after a few months because it became painfully clear that I did not have the money to implement the strategy that I tested on the simulator.

That leads me to the present. In an effort to overcome being undercapitalized and avoid the PDT rule, I had two choices: open a non-marginalized options account or trade futures. I have done a good bit of research on both, but I randomly decided to focus on futures for now, specifically the NQ.

Currently I work in the heart of downtown Chicago answering phone calls from old people who cannot work a computer and disgruntled customers. What is ironic is that I am less than a block from the CME building, walking distance from CBOT and various other monumental financial institutions that remind me of what I really want to do for a living. I find time to paper trader before/after work (I work from 12pm-8pm cst) or on weekends, but not nearly as much as I did when I was unemployed and I really feel like the more effort I put in, the quicker I can do this for a living.

This journal is going to force me to trade more, be honest with myself, get insight from the great traders on this website and share some ideas. It is starting out on paper and will move to live trading after that. Thank you for reading and I look forward to your insights.

Last edited by Bermudan Option; March 14th, 2012 at 09:47 PM.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 05:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
Quick Summary
Quick Summary Post

Current goals:

  • Keep directional trades diversified
  • Avoid bucking the short term trend. Trends are innocent until proven guilty as a popular trader always states. 30 m has turned into my long term charts but I need to check the 5 min and ensure that I am not bucking a short term trend either.
  • No picking tops, only trend-trading. Look for higher highs/higher lows and vice versa. Price action is king
  • Focus on ETF equivalents intradays to illustrate how the industry/sector is moving compared to the underlying on the watchlist
  • Maintain great risk management
  • Make sure there is an opportunity for 1:3 risk:reward ratio before entering the trade. Manage your expectation beforehand. Just because the stock is guaranteed to go in an expected direction doesn't mean that it is worth entering.

Last edited by Bermudan Option; April 25th, 2012 at 10:56 PM.

Old May 29th, 2011, 05:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
Hyde Park,
Chicago, Illinois
Futures Experience: Intermediate
Broker/Data: Optionhouse
Favorite Futures: Options
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Posts: 464 since May 2011
Thanks: 386 given, 250 received

Long Term Trading Goals
  1. Make 50% profit of margin requirements for one contract so that I am confident in my trading before going live. (For the NQ, this is $1700)
  2. Find a job related to the financial world so that I can use eight more hours a day to practice
  3. Or find a job that pays better so that I can have save enough money to attempt trading for a living faster.

Short Term Trading Goals

1. Trade less frequently intraday. I can do this by: - Only selecting trades with risk:reward heavily in my favor
- Being more patient
- Rereading Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom, The Daily Trading Coach and Trading in the Zone so that I can reestablish proper money management, a better understanding of my psyche and mental discipline.

2. Streamline my approach instead of doing a little bit of everything
- Write down specifically what I am looking for in a trade and when I am ready to exit it. Print this out and keep it nearby your trade station

Trading Method
  • Trade the NQ specifically for now: Not because for any reason other than the smallest margin requirement out of the e-mini indexes and I can't afford much more than one contract at the moment based on what my broker's intraday requirements are. More money = more instruments to trade. Also more experience = more instruments to venture into
  • Max Loss: 6 ticks but I might change to 8-10 ticks
  • Max Loss for the day: $150.

  • Each weekend I will look at the all the timeframes and form an opinion about market direction.
  • Trend Determinants: Price action and volume are what I will be watching the closest. I draw and redraw a lot of trendlines but I need to work on implementing trendlines in my trading strategy instead of simply focusing on support and resistance at horizontal price levels as signals to buy or sell. Also, I need to refresh breakout patterns and breakdown patterns.
  • Indicators: I use the Slow Stochastics the most out of the indicators on hand. I like to use the 512 tick chart to gauge the strength of rallies as well.
  • Market Internals: UVOL/DVOL, ADVN/DECN, $TICK/Q. Recently did away with my VXN chart but I might bring it back.

Support/Resistance lines
  • The 30 minute Opening Range with some Fibonacci Retracements. Not a fan of FR but I can't deny how often futures prices interact with them.
  • Price action: If I see a lot of hesitation around a certain price level, I will watch for a break on heavy volume or I will look at how the market reacts when it nears this price action and look to buy/sell accordingly
  • Trendlines: If I can draw a trendline that is touched by price movement 3x, I will keep an eye on it

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Old May 29th, 2011, 09:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Congrats on a nice start to your journal so far, I'm looking forward to more.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 04:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Platform: Multicharts
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Bermudan Option View Post
What is ironic is that I am less than a block from the CME building, walking distance from CBOT and various other monumental financial institutions that remind me of what I really want to do for a living.

Hi Bermudan Option, you're starting in a great place here at (formerly BMT).

So you moved to Chicago and ended up 1 block from the exchange - sounds like destiny. I started trading the NQ seriously at the start of March, after being encouraged by Big Mike to start a trading journal. I did some recent research, which may be useful to you;

PositiveDeviant View Post
I've been looking at some day session data on the NASDAQ 100 (NQ) in order to gauge the frequency and range of points moves.

Using data from 1st May 2009 to 27th May 2011 I looked at daily points ranges (for the day session), and the frequency of different ranges during this time period, and charted them.

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This shows that there are very few days where the range is 10 points or less, and that there are very few high range days, which is what you would expect to see.

The most common points range is 20 points. 20 point range days occurred on 31 separate trading days for the time period charted.

It appears from the chart that the bulk of points ranges for the day session appear to be between 14 and 29 points.

Looking at it from the perspective of a bell curve, the most common points ranges are between 12 and 31, these occur 68% of the time. That is one standard deviation using the data shown. Day sessions with ranges above or below that are therefore less common, found only 32% of the time.

"The primary thing required to obtain what you want from life, is simply the will to pursue it, and the faith to believe it is possible." - Author Unknown

"The ability to maintain discipline and stick to the rules is the hallmark of the experienced successful trader" - Curtis Faith
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Old May 30th, 2011, 03:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
Hyde Park,
Chicago, Illinois
Futures Experience: Intermediate
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Favorite Futures: Options
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Posts: 464 since May 2011
Thanks: 386 given, 250 received

Thanks for the kind words BigMike. Cool forum you have here.

Oh and I really like the analysis PositiveDeviant.

I have been thinking about your idea for like 2 hours now and just made up a bunch of stuff in my head. Maybe it makes sense to you? Lol. Here goes:

I wonder if I can alter my trading specifics to reflect the data you have presented. Based on your calculations and my extremely limited understanding of standard deviation and the likes, (read: I am making most of this up as I go along) the best estimation of expected daily volatility is 21.5 points in a day.
  • Majority of trading days fall into a range of 14-29 points. (29+14)/2=21.5
  • Based on the bell curve, one standard deviation (68%) is 12-31 pts. (12+31)/2 = 21.5
Although there will be plenty of days with larger and smaller ranges than 21.5, in the long run basing my trading expectations off a 21.5 pt range is ideal. Fitting this information onto my breakout trading strategy, I could look at what % of the 21.5 pt range is an actual breakout trading and tradeable vs what % is sideways consolidation that a skilled trader would be unwilling to attempt to capitalize on as it is a low probability trade.

For example, the average trading range might be 21.5 pts, but if shorter timeframes mirror longer timeframes, then markets tend to trade sideways for the majority of the time. (I can't remember the specifics but I have seen the quote a few times about the markets moving up/down only X % of the time and otherwise move sideways for Y % of the time. For arguments sake, lets say 60% of the time.)

If this is the case as well, then perhaps 12.9 pts of the 21.5 pt move is going to be low probability action that you are unlikely to capitalize on.

Of the remaining 8.6 points on the table as potential profit for the taking, there is an expectation not getting 100% of the move because of waiting for confirmations before entering breakouts, slippage and whatever else. Based on that, lets say you capitalize on 90% of the move. That is around 7.75 points potential profits for the trading strategy.

Based on that, I would be able to put a face to how much $ I want to risk daily. If on average I have the potential for 7.75 pts profit, then I might want to make my risk half or a third of that so that I could have I can break even if I am profitable 1 out of every 2 days or one out of every 3 days.Instead of basing the amount of $ I risk daily on the depth of my pockets, I can base it off the volatility of the contract itself.

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Old June 6th, 2011, 01:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
Hyde Park,
Chicago, Illinois
Futures Experience: Intermediate
Broker/Data: Optionhouse
Favorite Futures: Options
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Posts: 464 since May 2011
Thanks: 386 given, 250 received

I read 'The Pursuit of Happyness" from start to finish this week. I swear when I tell people that I want to trade for a living, they all told me to read the book. A good read but as I suspected, the book is about a broker and not a trader lol. I did take some lessons about perseverance out of it though.

I have been browsing a lot of the journals here and I noticed there is a wide range of trading beliefs that lead to different trading strategies. I have already explained my strategy above, but now I will go into my view of the financial markets:

In the futures market, the Futures price and the Spot price are linked and that a wide enough divergence leads to an arbitrage opportunity. (Arbitrage is when a trading position guarantees profits and has no chance of losing money) Personally, I also think that there is a connection between what current price is vs what current price 'should' be. Although it isn't an arbitrage opportunity, a wide divergence from what current price is vs what the current price 'should' be is a low risk and high reward trade. Overbought/Oversold indicators attempt to portray this divergence but anyone who uses them can attest to how inconsistent they can be. One method that I believe is much more efficient is watching the smart money.

I believe that 'smart money' ultimately decide when a market is oversold/overbought. Not necessarily because they are smart but because of their large order size. My belief is that in trading, you do not follow the majority, because the majority lose money. You follow the minority, the powerful: those with large volume. In the long run, for various reasons, having large volume seems to work against staying consistently profitable but following size imo is a key to successful trading.

When smart money is not in a trade, volume is not in a trade. When volume is not behind a trade entry, the probability of continual price action diminishes. Occasionally it might work out, but in the long run - which trading is all about - I need to take high probability plays.

I have been doing some thinking and my view on financial markets intraday kinda mirrors the Business Cycle idea that we learned in elementary school. In the Business Cycle Theory you have:
  • Contraction: A slowdown in the pace of economic activity
  • Trough: The lower turning point of a business cycle, where a contraction turns into an expansion
  • Expansion: A speedup in the pace of economic activity
  • Peak: The upper turning of a business cycle

Using Price action and Volume intraday, you can also see similar phases:
Note: The markets do not move in complete cycles intraday and often can skip stages, but these guidelines aid in understanding what price/volume are saying.

1.) The market is consolidating = Volume contracts and Price Action contracts (Contraction)
2.) The market is volatile and choppy/undecided = Volume expands and Price action expands but in both directions (Indecision A)
3.) The market is gearing up for a potential reversal = Volume expands and price action contracts aka Distribution or Accumulation (Peak/Trough)
4.) The market is melting up or drifting lower = Volume contracts but Price action expands only in one direction (Indecision B)
5.) The market is breaking out/breaking down = Volume expands and price action expands in one direction(Expansion)

How each stage plays a role in my trading:

= The best set up because when volume comes does come in, it is an indication that price is going to start moving. Occasionally though, volume can come in but lead to a headfake that turns into Indecision A
Indecision A
= This stage suggests that there is a conflict in the smart money's opinion. Sit on the sidelines and do nothing. It is extremely low probability and frustrating.
Peak/Trough = This stage has a low risk/high reward ratio but ONLY if I wait for a clear confirmation. Otherwise it is just guessing tops/bottoms which is high risk.
Indecision B = This stage is two-fold. On the one hand, it tells me, "Do not enter any new positions" because it is low probability. However, if I am in a position, sit on my hands and be patient. Markets can melt up and drift lower for extended periods of time. The absence of smart money indicates a low probability of a breakout/breakdown but as for unimpeded price action, a lack of smart money/volume could very well mean that the smart money is already in the trade and capitalizing on a position with the price movement.Wait for the smart money/volume to get involved contrary to my position as an indication to exit.
Expansion = When price action runs into uncharted territories I find that it is hard to tell what exactly constitutes volume expansion if the market does not consolidate before moving through support/resistance. I will work on this.

Still paper-trading the /NQ on Think on Demand and I am profitable trading one contract, overall but I am having a lot of trouble on tight ranged days.Occasionally I lose track of the big picture and trade noise instead of signal where reward is not a large multiple of risk. I can make a killing on volatile days but even then, I do have a tendency to overtrade in the afternoons for volatile days. I do not want to sit on the sideline on volatile days because volatility means opportunity, but I need to be make myself more aware when price/volume = Expansion vs when price/volume=Indecision A on these days or else I will give back a lot of profits in the afternoon session.

More when I think of it.

Last edited by Bermudan Option; June 6th, 2011 at 01:29 AM.
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Old June 6th, 2011, 01:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Portland, OR
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Cool to see you over here Bermudan! This is IchibomB (I should've kept the name haha)

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Old June 6th, 2011, 11:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
Hyde Park,
Chicago, Illinois
Futures Experience: Intermediate
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Favorite Futures: Options
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Hey Ichi, i figured it was you. You have a very 'unique' avatar lol. Yeah, I just signed up here the other day, I like the more concentrated interest in futures.

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Old June 19th, 2011, 09:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
Hyde Park,
Chicago, Illinois
Futures Experience: Intermediate
Broker/Data: Optionhouse
Favorite Futures: Options
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Posts: 464 since May 2011
Thanks: 386 given, 250 received

Hey everyone, I am still relatively new to the website and I really dig the heavy emphasis on futures trading. I have never found a website with quite as many active futures traders with so many varying points of view on trading. I love it here. One thing that I have found surprising is the amount of people here who purchase trading courses and/or 'special' trading indicators.

In my opinion, the most pivotal rule of the financial world is to limit your risk. There are instances when risk is often incorrectly analyzed by the public, so people might call you foolish if you buy when everyone is selling, or call you a sucker when you stick with a system that has a large initial draw-down. However, deep down, you can rest easy because with proper risk management, if you enter a trade too early, you will have a preset stop that notifies you that your position was premature and/or wrong, and you will end up with a minimal loss. That is risk-taking that is calculated and smart.

With a trading course/indicator, there needs to be a similar approach to make sure that risk taking is calculated and smart... there needs to be some kind of indication when a strategy is working and when it is not. A steadfast pledge to remain loyal to a particular method until it clicks is not showing resolve, nor does it show dedication or determination: it is financial suicide. It is exactly like the trader who refuses to close a losing position because he cannot handle the possibility of being wrong.

I view trading courses/strategies like financial instruments: there is a spread between the price you paid and the price you need to make to start being profitable. For example, if the trading strategy chosen costs $10,000, then you need to cover the spread of making $10,000 just to break even. I am a firm believer in education, but in my opinion, a course that costs a large amount of money should have an immediate effect on your trading and produce incontestable results.

Some may contest that the effects cannot be gauged on a short term outlook and so it is wrong to expect results immediately. This, I believe, is flawed reasoning. Correct me if I am wrong, but to my knowledge, the entire point of purchasing a trading course is to get a professional to teach you and expedite your learning curve. Is it not, then, a contradiction to pay someone to get you positive results quickly and then concede that the positive results are not attainable until a later period of time? Who is to say that you would not have reached positive results within the same timeframe without spending $10,000? Therefore, if you continue to encounter a "learning curve" after the indicator/strategy/course has been completed, I believe that raises an immediate question whether the benefits are too ambiguous or random to be taken seriously from a scientific analysis.

In my opinion, there is probably an abnormally high correlation between failure in financial markets and a faith in expensive trading courses/indicators. The reason I personally believe this is that those who purchase trading strategies are often in a rush for results. If you are impatient as a trader, and seek refuge in investing in a fail-safe course that can be taught in one intensive two-weekend course, you are doomed to fail.

A second point I think is worth mentioning on the subject is that a lot of people believe in trader's tuition and that they have to lose a duffel bag full of money before they can become profitable... and it is better to 'give' the money away in the education process than to have it 'taken' from you in the actual markets. People talk of a trader's tuition as if trading courses translates perfectly into a college tuition but I believe this is incorrect.

In picking a college, an associates/bachelors/master degree will open doors for you in itself because it validates you to prospective employees. As a result, there is an intrinsic justification for the large tuition costs. However, financial markets don't give a damn where you graduated from. People at the local watering hole might care what percentile you graduated in, and companies looking to hire financial gurus might be impressed when you tell them you took a $10,000 course, but the actual financial markets don't care if you took an overpriced course or bought a $15 used textbook off Amazon.

For trading courses specifically, it is not that I hate them, but they often make a lot of promises or use back-testing that often do not translate well for present (and future) markets. I think the best analogy to describe expensive trading courses is to look at For-Profit colleges. The current administration specifically has been investigating the benefits of for-profit colleges for the past year because:

1) The school credits often do not necessarily translate well from one college to the next. Some colleges are not recognized or accredited. Also, For-Profit colleges do not always give the necessary validation for employers.
2) The schools are often misleading in the job opportunities and salaries that is likely for those who attend For-profit schools

If you add points 1+2, that equals you have people who have large amounts of college debts with no job opportunities to pay them off. These are the exact same problems that I find with expensive trading strategies as well. They are misleading in managing expectations, they often do not properly prepare students for the financial world, and they often charge fees that are too expensive considering what size the average trader operates on.

That is what has been on my mind lately. I swear I am going to eventually post some actual trading in this journal one day lol. As usual, I am open for any kind of constructive conversations on the topic.

Last edited by Bermudan Option; June 19th, 2011 at 09:43 PM.
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