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The Birth of a Trader


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The Birth of a Trader

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  #1 (permalink)
Thessaloniki, Greece
 
Experience: Beginner
Platform: QTS
Broker: IB
Trading: Equities, NQ
 
Posts: 165 since May 2012
Thanks: 104 given, 390 received

After spending quite some time reading books and journals (the classic AHG journal over at the other forum and indextrader7's journal are my favourites) I decided it's time to actually get my hands "dirty", start a journal, and start sim trading some futures. I think that documenting my trades, mistakes, and progress in detail will help out a lot.

This journal is mainly going to be about my first steps into intraday discretionary futures trading, but I might also post a bit about some of my other strategies and how it all fits together.

My contract of choice is the NQ and I'll be doing intraday trend following with price action as my guide.

The top goals right now are to fix my glaring execution and discipline issues and reach consistent profitability. In terms of profitability I'm targeting 3 points per day on average, trading 3 contracts (after commissions). After that it'll be time for cash trading and everything that entails.

I've got a decade of tick data that I'm using to paper trade. It's not exactly the same as live, but it's close enough to start correcting major issues and to get a feel for how the instrument moves. The best thing about it is not having to wait for things to happen, which means that I can compress a week of trading into a few hours, greatly speeding up the learning and screen time gathering process.


Day 1
Today was my first day real-time sim trading, and it was mostly a series of cliché newbie failures.

Day's chart (I use a 1k contract chart for entry and a 10k contract chart as anchor):


The trades:



Issues:
  • I hesitated when I shouldn't.
  • I wasn't paying enough attention when it counted.
  • I was impatient when I shouldn't be. I didn't let my winners run.
  • I failed to remove my directional bias fast enough when the trend changed.
  • Shorted right at the LoD, predictably got stopped out. Got tunnel vision and disregarded where the price was in relation to where other traders might be covering their positions.

...and to top it all off I actually ended the day 11 points up, fueling my dangerous newbie's overconfidence. Obviously it was a quite easy day; I think that in a choppier environment I would've done far worse.

Some positives:
  • Didn't get owned too badly in the choppy bits.
  • Reasonable number of trades.
  • In general, stayed with the trend.

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  #3 (permalink)
Thessaloniki, Greece
 
Experience: Beginner
Platform: QTS
Broker: IB
Trading: Equities, NQ
 
Posts: 165 since May 2012
Thanks: 104 given, 390 received


Day 2
Didn't have a lot of time yesterday, lots of chop when I was in front of the screen. No trades.

Day 3
Another day of EXTREMELY embarrassing, though profitable, trading.
+6.25 points, +17.75 total.

The charts:



A zoom-in on the 11:48 trade, for shits n giggles:


The trades:


Issues:
  • Tragicomically bad stop placement.
  • Too quick on the trigger on a trade, need to wait for a bit of confirmation.
  • Hesitated too much on a number of occasions (possibly due to overcompensation for the above).

Positives:
  • Mostly stayed with the trend and out of the chop.

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  #4 (permalink)
Thessaloniki, Greece
 
Experience: Beginner
Platform: QTS
Broker: IB
Trading: Equities, NQ
 
Posts: 165 since May 2012
Thanks: 104 given, 390 received

Day 4 - Friday June 1st
A day with great opportunities, none of which I exploited unfortunately. Didn't spend a lot of time in front of the screen ...the time I did have was spend making bad trades during the chop. 2/3 bad trades, 3/3 bad entries.

-28.5 points, -10.75 total.

The chart:



Day 5 - Monday June 4th
Far better than previous days, though I'm still very embarrassed about my trading. I'm still way too slow with waking up to a trend change, and even after I do recognize a trend change I fail to take some great set-ups. And once again the terribly placed stops take me out of good trades.

+11.64 points, +1 total.

The chart:



Issues:
  • Too slow to adjust to new trends.
  • Not taking good set-ups, hesitating for no rational reason.
  • Bad stop placement.
  • Some strange inconsistencies between MC and TWS orders took me out before I wanted out, got to have a close look at this.

Positives:
  • Did take some pretty good trades.
  • Entries weren't bad.
  • Trade management wasn't horrible.

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  #5 (permalink)
Birmingham, AL
 
 
Posts: 1,065 since Apr 2012

Really great work, even if you're not trading as well as you know you're capable of yet. Keep it up.

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  #6 (permalink)
Thessaloniki, Greece
 
Experience: Beginner
Platform: QTS
Broker: IB
Trading: Equities, NQ
 
Posts: 165 since May 2012
Thanks: 104 given, 390 received


indextrader7 View Post
Really great work, even if you're not trading as well as you know you're capable of yet. Keep it up.

Thanks! So far I'm beating my expectations and it feels like I'm improving by leaps and bounds every single day. As long as I'm learning from my failures I'm happy. With a few months worth of screen time and by fixing my major mistakes I think I'll be able to do well enough to leave the sim behind me.

Day 6 - Tuesday June 5th
-22.5 points, - 21.5 total.

Did a lot of things wrong on Tuesday..reasonable entry on the first trade but got flummoxed as I stupidly exited my position, then didn't go back in again. A lot of hesitating going on, I don't feel comfortable with trend changes yet and take way too long to adjust and start entering positions again. The last trade wasn't horrible at least.

Chart:



Trades:



Day 7 - Wednesday June 6th
+30.5 points, +9 total.

Once again the "hesitation" leitmotif shows up. I'm just going to focus on forcing myself to take trades over the next few days. Despite good intuitions and even planning out some of the trades before the set-up actually materializes, I keep second-guessing myself and by the time I end up making a decision the price has moved 5 points.

The first trade of the day started 1 or 2 swings too late, but when I was in I managed it well. I just moved the stops to new lows and let it run up until the consolidation around 09:00 took me out. Quite happy with it.

Then I hesitated once again on a trade I had seen coming from far away (was planning on buying/selling the first pop after the breakout), and didn't take advantage of the continued move up, and once again hesitated on the trend change down.

Took a nice little trade toward the end of the day that should've been managed better. I exited the last 1/3 at the worst possible price I could find. I should almost always let my stops take me out because my judgment on manual exits is extremely bad and prone to be taken over by negative feelings as the position starts moving against me.

Charts:




Trades:

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  #7 (permalink)
Birmingham, AL
 
 
Posts: 1,065 since Apr 2012

Wow, that's good trading.

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  #8 (permalink)
Paris
 
Experience: None
Platform: NinjaTrader
 
Posts: 1,239 since Oct 2009
Thanks: 266 given, 4,361 received

There's definitely some AHG touch with those Anek paint bars and 25/50/75 levels....
Nice trading

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  #9 (permalink)
Thessaloniki, Greece
 
Experience: Beginner
Platform: QTS
Broker: IB
Trading: Equities, NQ
 
Posts: 165 since May 2012
Thanks: 104 given, 390 received


gomi View Post
There's definitely some AHG touch with those Anek paint bars and 25/50/75 levels....
Nice trading


indextrader7 View Post
Wow, that's good trading.

Thanks a lot! Naturally I offset the good trading with some horrible trading the next day.

As for the bars and the 25%/50%/75% I do have them on the charts but frankly don't really rely on them particularly much. The levels are useful as rough areas around which to expect support/resistance but they're by no means reliable. I use the 3 bar reversal paintbars for entries some times, but mostly they're just a visual tool to more quickly identify strong trends and such.

Day 8 - Thursday June 7th
Same mistakes as previous days, nothing more to say. That early downtrend was beautiful though.

Chart:


Trades:



Day 9 - Friday June 8th
Stopped hesitating and started taking some trades for once, woohoo! ...then I forgot how to manage them. Ah well.
I really have to focus on letting the trades develop. I don't completely accept the potential loss from the stop, and its necessity, and that it will be hit many many times even in good trades.
Bad feelings take over when trades move against me and I get an urge to limit my losses. What happens instead is that I limit my profitability. Really have to learn to control that. As long as I take the trades that the market offers, that is the next big issue to work on in the path to constistency and profitability.

Charts:
Overview of the day:


100 contract chart of the trades around 11-12:


Trades:

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  #10 (permalink)
Thessaloniki, Greece
 
Experience: Beginner
Platform: QTS
Broker: IB
Trading: Equities, NQ
 
Posts: 165 since May 2012
Thanks: 104 given, 390 received


I've neglected this thread lately because other things (unexpected obstacles in research and endless pain from going live with a longer-term systematic strategy) have been taking up too much of my time, but despite not posting I've been working on the intraday discretionary stuff quite hard and things have finally started coming together.

Today, roughly a month and a half after starting with this stuff I made the first trade during which I didn't make any serious mistakes (though I did several small ones). I had great focus, I formulated plans beforehand depending on what the market would do and then acted on them quickly and without hesitation, I controlled my emotions, I was thinking probabilistically, I kept track of the bigger picture, stopped myself from sabotaging myself like I usually do, and everything worked out great.

Admittedly it was a VERY easy day, but this is still a major breakthrough for me.

End result: +91 points.

Here's my (quite cluttered) chart for the day:




To summarize my experience thus far, after ~6 weeks of trying my hand at intraday discretionary trading, I must say that I have found it both far easier and far more difficult than I expected it to be. Far easier because I can see the market offers so many fantastic opportunities to make money; for a highly experienced and skilled trader it seems like it would be a money-printing machine. Far more difficult because there is a gigantic difference between recognizing these opportunities and exploiting them consistently and to their full potential.

In these 6 weeks I have now made a single trade where everything came together nicely; other than that there was always at least one mistake whether it's the entry, the stop placement, or managing the trade. And the mistakes have a diverse set of underlying causes: hesitation, being too quick to make a judgment, fear, lack of patience, over-trading, lack of focus, tunnel-vision, above all a lack of trust in myself and my plan, and some times simply lack of experience.

Many of the mistakes come from the fact that in the heat of the moment I am failing to apply the things I have learned. On the intellectual level I "know" what I should do, but on the instinctual level I do not - I need to ingrain these things so that I do the correct thing "automatically"; that means more screen time, more reviewing of trades, more paper trading on old data.

I am improving however. Identifying my weaknesses and errors and working on them one-by-one has gone well and I continue to improve every single day. I also continue to make fresh mistakes, or: new learning experiences. So far so good...things are looking up!

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July 13, 2012


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