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Spot FX Day Trading: The Jigsaw


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Spot FX Day Trading: The Jigsaw

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 mokodo 
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Taking the plunge with my own futures.io (formerly BMT) journal. I've been keeping a handwritten journal since I started full time trading in February '11 but who's going to see that apart from me?

A little about me. 40yrs old, UK born and bred, beautiful wife, 3 kids and a dog (yes a lab!), live in the countryside. I have an income from a business that allows to me spend all but one day a week on my trading learning curve. I make my own cider and am a sports nut.

I've survived this far after having made every rookie error in the book (and still do notch up a fair few of those). And after:

- buying a system
- adapting the system endlessly
- not trusting the system
- learning to code
- coding the system for backtesting, stress testing, etc.
- ditching the system wholesale
- giving up and having a cry
- taking stock and deciding to give it all another go

I am now happy live trading which I started again in May '12 after going to SIM for a protracted period. I returned 2.35% of my account equity in May and am down -0.2% for June (and unlikely to trade before July).

I'm looking for a 30% return p.a. and have designed my money management to (hopefully) get me there without too much of a rollercoaster ride. But to be honest I also see breakeven after costs as success!

Trade spot forex through MB trading using Ninjatrader. Primarily trade off 15 minute charts but can also take some signals off the 5 and 60 minutes timeframe. Trade the majors and a few crosses (I monitor 10 pairs in all). I trade most days and will take a whatever signals are valid - 30 or so a month for the last couple of months.

Thanks to everyone on futures.io (formerly BMT) - it is a wonderful community of trading troops.

I'll upload my trades hopefully once a day, or as they happen starting in July.

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 mokodo 
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Day one of my futures.io (formerly BMT) journal (and I didn't lose any money!!).

Noted up my charts for a 10am(BST) start, I find Monday morning price action to be a bit jumpy and I tend to be too excited - and have taken trades just to get involved in the past. A delayed start time helps me settle and (try to) get in the groove.

My TE indicator shows everything into exhaustion (purple areas in panel 2) after the big move up on Friday and was showing a lot of indecision with price switching around a fair bit (see AUDUSD chart, pink areas).

I was not expecting any trades and did not get any signals. Closest was the black dot on EURUSD at 11am.

Entry would have been under 100period SMA (small red squares under the signal candle, sma is the orange line)
MACDh shows divergence on the 5 min chart (marked as the blue line in the histogram)
Price is coming off upper resistance in a falling channel

I could not take this entry as the stop loss measured from the local high (candle with the largish wick) was 41 pips, this would have been my target too. On the 15 minute charts I cap these SL:PT's at 25 pips, so had to pass.

So stuck to the plan today.

Other things covered today were watching Fat Tails' Session Indicators webinar (available on futures.io (formerly BMT), just pop it in the search function). Excellent stuff. One of my rules is not to take trades where the profit target is past some level of average daily volatility. I have been using a combination of daily ATR and Floor Pivots, but have found I'm missing some good trades filtered by the Floor Pivots. Pivots are calculated only using the previous day so narrow or wide range days have little in the way of predictive value for the following day. I will be putting some thought into this this week.

Training tonight: will run through a few more days of market replay to practice position sizing / order placement on my virtual machine. I'm finding that watching my normal workspace at higher speeds can help identify patterns that are not evident in real time when I am trading. I'm hoping for a perception shift that may find another part of 'The Jigsaw' soon.

Reading / Psych work: Continue reading & noting up Enhancing Trader Performance by Bret Steenberger (I think that's the spelling?).

I'm using a bit of shorthand regarding my method (very much a work in progress) so if anyone starts to follow the thread please question me any time. I'm here to learn and be challenged.

Until tomorrow.

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Another quiet day for me today. No valid signals but some interesting price action to soak up. I've attached a chart to show a couple of set-ups on the GBPJPY

4am BST during the Asian session there was a break up. (through the red line marked 2). The yellow block in the 3rd panel shows that the ADX on the next timeframe up (30 min) was <12.5 and it's at that point I track for a break of the channel bounded by a Swing level (10 period), or other clearly defined pattern. I was sleeping so missed this one. Would have taken it as price also accepted support of the slope (intersection line marked 1). May have (just) made the measured move target of 40 pips which is tucked just under the high from yesterday.

The second set-up (which I had a very twitchy finger about - so nearly took it which would have been bad bad bad) is shown in the expanding wedge with the red zig-zag lines. I figured that the dominant trend was likely to be up as price was finding it easier to go up than down. This zigzag move down shows price fighting it's was down like it's swimming against the tide. Although it's not part of my rule set I like to see this sort of price action (3 dips and a pop) prior to an MACD dot entry signal. In this case the entry (if the signal was valid) would have been the square dots above the candle with the blue dot underneath at the end of the wedge.

I could not take the trade long as MACD shows no classic/hidden divergence on this timeseries or the 5 minute indicating that the downmove was weakening - and the measured move target from the local low goes over the daily high. When I took this screen shot price looks like it may be having another crack at it on a leg up.

US Holidays tomorrow, I only trade a few hours Thursdays (other work) and NFP's looming large on Friday. A fragmented week likely and I am obviously keen to get some trades on the board for July.

Patience Patience Patience...

Until tomorrow

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Good and bad today if that's possible.

I thought that we might get some movement today after the big move last Friday had had a chance to settle down - even with the US holidays.

Four charts today. The first two show the trade I took and the second two show the one I missed (taking the kids to school). In hindsight I think I was trying to make up for missing the GBPUSD trade by taking the second.

The trade I took was on NZDUSD. The 6o minute chart show the pair in a grinding up-channel covering the last 3 days. I've found it not uncommon for this or the Aussie to chug uphill for somewhile. I had a breakout signal on my TE indicator (yellow/magenta band in the second panel). This shows me that ADX on the 60 minute timeseries in <12.5 and I start tracking for a breakout. On the 15 minute chart you can see the sloping support. Initially I set a stop sell order 2 pips under the channel (also the daily low). And this was my trade as per my rules. Price accepted this support and was pushed along the channel. I then set a stop buy order (OCO with the original) 2 pips + spread above the local high. My thinking here was breakout either way (and I track it for 20 candles - 5 hours). The buy stop was filled on an upswing, which I had anticipated may break up to the top of the channel and as price had accepted the channel support I thought this was a sound plan. Price rotated back down and tested support again which held and then rotated back up. After 10 candles I took a loss of 9 pips as it was late with very llittle momentum in the market. Against a Risk of 27 pips this is a -0.33R loss.

The GBPUSD trade is what I wanted to happen to the trade I took. It's the same sort of set-up (just that price before the break is working into a triangle). The red lines marked 1,2,3 are the entry, stop and profit target I would have set. As you can see it travelled all the way down to the S3 level and I would have taken profits at S2 for a 1:1 R:R

Anyways, I did not feel 100% confident about the trade I did take and reflecetd that by only putting on 0.125% risk. I'm happy with the patience I did show to let the trade sit in the red for nearly 3 hours, whilst I let price rotated back up (rules are to let these trades have 10 bars). And I got out with a marginal loss.

Continued reading the Steenberger book and clocked up another days worth of market replay trades.

Until tomorrow.

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 mokodo 
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1 Trade, A Loser

First chart is the 60 minute which shows price rejecting resistance and breaking right and up through the channel. The second chart is my entry chart, the 15 minute timeseries. The red lines 1,2,3 are my stop, entry and profit target.

This trade definately fell in the category of 'Oh no it's in my rule set so I have to take it - but it feels all wrong!'. The red arrow points to the signal which is an ADX reading of <12 on the 30 minute timeseries, so at this point I am tracking for a break of a swing 10 channel or other distinct S:R pattern for the next 20 bars. Entry was 3 pips over the daily high - also rejecting resistance in the bull channel. So it looked like a breakout would perhaps get started on that first leg. It didn't and rolled over. I had raised my SL 3 pips shy of the local low (5 bars into the trade), when in hindsight (oh how clear it is!), the stop would have been better placed under the bull channel support to allow this long more time to get traction.

I took a 0.27R loss using 0.25% risk.

The trade felt wrong to me perhaps because it was late in the day (my cut off is 16:00BST and this trade was initiated at 15:30). And the pair and virtually everything else is locked in down trends, and I am not confident with counter trend trades. Price action has also been choppy.

I also spent part of the weekend reviewing all my trades of the last year and know that this set-up has been more reliable as a short. I assumed that market bias may be slanting the performance figures, but it may be that the longs 'walk up the stairs' and I have not reflected that dynamic with how I manage the trade once entered? They may just need more time to get going. More analysis tonight.

Starting to feel anxious about my performance in the last month or so. I have cut my risk down and taken a few days out to review and reflect, but I have posted 9 losers in a row since 20th June. And although total losses are small, an average of 0.3R a time, I am starting to doubt the set-ups and my ability to manage them. I have already started another round of code tweaking /backtesting to try to shed some light on it.

Until tomorrow

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 mokodo 
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2 trades today, a profit target and a scratch.

First chart shows the last week or so on the EURJPY pair. Clear downward channel and has slipped into a lower channel on Friday. The second chart is my entry on the 15 min timeseries. Price has made a daily low earlier (09:00 BST) and retraced it to about 70% of the high from the Asian session. Stop, entry, target shown by the red lines 1,2,3. This was a pretty good set-up for me and it made its profit target of 20 pips in 3 bars:
  • This may be an ABC shaping up for a thrust down
  • There was strong divergence on the 5 minute MACD histogram vs the second local peak, just above my entry
  • Price had accepted the sloping overhead resistance from yesterday's high
  • My stop & target from the entry (square dots to local high+2 pips+spread was only 20 pips; there were no notable levels to be breached to get there - the morning low had already dealt with those.

The third graph shows an near identical set-up an hour later on USDJP. This time it stalled out after 5 bars and I took a breakeven.

So good news that I stopped the losing run. I have turned down risk to a mere 0.125% of my trading account so these trades are much more about getting back in the groove than about the money.

Funny how the doubt can creep in after a losing streak! There is nothing 'wrong' with my method as it stands, indeed my review and backtesting yesterday evening restored my confidence that it is a good base from which to trade from. And losing streaks are anticipated, they are just hard to deal with mentally.

So had a chat with myself about the negativity which had crept in. And I reviewed the last few months trades in detail. Yes I had 9 losers in a row, but some of those were scratch trades and 7 of them are 'boxed up' in last months figures (June) and I came in at breakeven for the month. The other two are from July and I overturned those with todays winner.

So not the end of the world! In fact with a dose of objectivity I can see I have traded (and behaved) resiliently.

Other stuff. Nearly finished reading/note taking the Steenberger book (sure that's not the surname!) 'Enhacing Trader Performance' and have started the new Al Brooks price action book on range trading. I have a breakout set-up and a with trend set-up (these two today are examples of the later) but nothing for ranges, so have started the work on putting something together.

Until tomorrow.

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 mokodo 
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No valid signals from either of my strategies today.

Until tomorrow

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 mokodo 
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Potential break out set-up on USDCHF 09:00BST. First chart shows the hourly chart for the last few days. This is marching north so I am looking for longs. The coloured background on panel 3 has gone yellow telling me that ADX has fallen below 12 on the 30 minute timeseries. So I am now tracking for a break of a Swing10 (either long or short, but my hunch is long given the trend). Red lines numbered 1,2,3 are my stop entry and target.

Get my entry and price breaks to 8 or so pips and rotates. I hold for 10 candles as per my rules and exit at a breakeven. The break was brewing and popped on the next rotation.

I'm glad to have got the analysis right, just off on the timing on this instance. I seemed to be getting a good run at keeping the losers small so I'm grateful for that.

Other business took me away from my screens after 10:30.

Until tomorrow.

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 Adamus 
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Great stuff - the way you write, you come across as really disciplined, or perhaps that's just a side-effect of your precise and comprehensive journal entries. I am seriously interested by the price rotation topic you mention a lot. I just don't see price rotation unless it's staring me in the face like a sine wave. It'll be good to see whether I can learn from you here. I've heard more of the same from others but like I said, I have trouble nailing it down.

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.
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 mokodo 
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One chart from Friday 13th showing my 2 trades on the 15 minute timeseries, both breakout set-ups as determined by the yellow/magenta colouring in the lowest panel - which tells me ADX on the 30 minute timeseries has dropped below 12. The first trade is shown by the red line 1 and 2; the entry and stop. Price has rejected the sloping support and proceeds to break the Swing10. It takes a couple of rotations back up and I come out of the trade after 10 bars as per my rules for a 0.37R loss.

The second trade was clearly a revenge attempt! Entry and stop shown by red lines 3,4. There was a break in the yellow colouring after my first trade so I could make another short entry. But there was a better set-up brewing on GBPJPY and I still opted to trade again on the EURJPY. This trade price reversed sharply after failing to break yesterday's low. I had raised my stop 3 pips off a local high/sloping resistance. 0.53R loss.

The profit target for these trades was 40 pips (same as the stop). Both trades would have needed to break the daily low (which they did) and the previous day's low (which they didn't). Was this likely to happen late fairly late in the London session on a Friday?

I have been getting a lot of break-out set ups recently which is rare and this is hitting my performance figures for some reason. I have resolved to dig down in to another layer of price information to see is a can see how I can filter better. From an initial review a couple of areas looks like they warrant a closer look: bar height in the MACD histogram, breakouts from periods where this is very low seem to perform better; and wick length tops vs tails, does where price has been rejected more often help indicate where it may go in the future?

I'm marginally down for the month to date and with just 1 winner from 7 trades (3 were breakeven or thereabouts). So I will trim my risk to 0.125% until I can get another decent winner on the books.

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 mokodo 
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Trades for Tuesday 17th July



The first two trades today were both exited early as I had connection issues with the MB Trading server. As my data feed was intermittent I stuck to my rules and exited as soon as I had the chance. Net result is (approximately) the same as if the trades had run to completion.

The two charts above show a long on the EURJPY. Top chart shows 60 minute timeseries where you can see price rejecting the downward channel resistance so longs are allowed. The 15 minute chart is my entry chart. After the break of the longer-term down channel resistance price accepts the up channel support and my entry is a MACD swing after that (small blue squre dots are the entry level, big blue dot under the signal candle shows for easier recognition.). 5 min time series (not uploaded here but I refer to) shows some MACD histogram divergence, but not much. Not too worried about that as the trend lines have held. Red line 1,2,3 show my stop, entry and profit target. 1:1 risk:reward. Exit was +9pips for +0.32R.



At first glance this looks very much like the EURJPY trade. But it isn't and I made a blunder. There is a decent leg up prior and price has not really had a chance to settle. I should have spotted this and waited for 3 short legs down (a zigzagging of price against the dominant trend) and then started looking for an entry. Either that or a hard acceptance of a support either price or channel. This set-up had neither and only after I got in did I have the necessary clarity! I decided once in to let it run, -6 pips -0.38R



A horror show! A total lack of patience and discipline. I was looking for an entry for a potential short to get into what I believed to be a sharp downtrend on NZDUSD. I wanted the entry at the pullback after the pair broke sharply though the rising channel support. I made the following errors on this trade:
  • trade was at 18:00BST, my cut off is 16:00
  • entry signal was on the 5 minute timeseries which is currently not in my plan
  • MACD histogram is diverging but not even close to what is needed (on the 5 min chart - not shown)
  • price has not yet tested the support it previously broke

I short I got in front of a train and got flatten. The pullback indeed tested the previous support and the entry was, wait for it, 8 hours later. Patience, patience, patience. Let the trade come to you all the way - do not make even one step towards it. -16 pips -1R. Lesson learned.

Until tomorrow

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 mokodo 
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Trades For Wednesday 18th July




First chart is the 60 minute showing a downward sloping channel which has been in place since 2nd July on the EURUSD, and the upward channel crossing it that has been in place this week. The trade opportunity it where these two channel are going to fight it out.

The second chart is my entry chart on the 15 minute timeseries. My signal is the yellow band in panel three, this means ADX on the next timeseries up (30 min) is <12. I'm tracking for a break of a Swing10 level or other well defined triangle or other consolidation pattern. MACD histogram is very low in the build up to the entry. I get the entry on a sharp break after the longer term downward channel resistance wins, and price runs to my profit target in 3 bars (about 40 minutes). The profit target is set as 1:1 vs risk which on these breakout set-ups pretty much equates to a measured move from the stop side of the pattern. +30 pips +1R.



The next trade shown above is the reverse of the EURUSD trade as it's on USDCHF, which is rarely less than 95% negatively correlated with EU. I took my risk amount and split it equally between these two trades. That does mean twice the slippage+spread, but I get the benefit of spreading the risk. +24 pips +1R

Until tomorrow

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 mokodo 
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Adamus View Post
I am seriously interested by the price rotation topic you mention a lot. I just don't see price rotation unless it's staring me in the face like a sine wave. It'll be good to see whether I can learn from you here. I've heard more of the same from others but like I said, I have trouble nailing it down.

I'm not an expert at anything - including price rotation. Not even sure if is an established term. Perhaps I find it easier to spot as I trade a higher time frame to you. On the 15 mins when there is nothing doing price can roll around a fair bit. I know that I have been getting better at spotting it because I have a degree of discretion on my exits which are not performing (i.e in the red). If my read of the market is that price may be able to rotate and so reduce my loss on a losing trade I will sit it out. Before I would just click and be glad to out of the pain. Now I will try to manage my way out of a bad trade. Some will say that's asking for trouble - once it's not working just get out. And yes I get burned sometimes, but on balance this has kept my losers smaller.

I'm getting deeper into Al Brook's price action (and boy does he go deeeeeep!) so I hope this will allow me the scratch away at another layer of (price) information, at the micro level if you will, to manage these exits even better. Or so is the plan...

Good trading to you

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 mokodo 
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No trades taken yesterday (not trading) and none today. Although I did pass on one, filtered because the profit target was beyond a long term resistance level - the downward sloping resistance in place since the 12th July.



Volatility has dropped way down on the 30 min timeseries (yellow banding in panel 3 has now turned pink indicating ADX<9, potential for a substantial move building up here). Stop, entry and profit target would have been 1,2,3. The blue elipse shows the area I was keeping an eye on for a reversal.

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 mokodo 
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Monday 23rd July



No signals today. This chart shows why. Chart is for EURUSD 15 minute showing last Friday and the sessions since. The breakout move that started mid session Friday continued today into the London open and was into exhaustion before my trading started (10:00BST on Mondays). Exhaustion = purple zones in the panels 2,3 which are showing ADX > 40 on the 30 and 60 timeseries. As such I cannot take any shorts.

Until tomorrow

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 mokodo 
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Tuesday 25th July



This is the last few session on EURJPY. Clearly a down channel with price in the middle at the start of the London session.



Here's my entry chart (15 mins). The signal is the yellow band in panel 3 shoing ADX<12 on the 30 minute timeseries. The MACD histogram has been very low (<0.0001) for the last 10 bars and the RSIX(shown with arrow) is dropping but not oversold, suggesting the break down has room to develop. Stop, entry and profit target are noted 1,2,3. 1:1 risk:reward. After entry price rotates and then breaks again and runs to PT in 8 bars. Winner +29 pips +1R.



And now the ones that didn't work out! I also had signals on EURUSD and USDCHF for a very similar looking set-up. I've only posted the EURUSD as the USDCHF is a mirror image. I split the risk across these two trades Stop, entry and profit target marked in red 1,2,3. I took a fair bit of heat on these, but even so managed the pain prretty well. The set-ups did have their faults (clear as a bell in hindsight of course). MACDh is low which is good, but RSIX is already O/S at the entry. The price rotation that follows could have taken me out for a full SL, luckily it rolled over quickly enough. The error here was that I pulled in my SL to a candle high (marked no.5) rather than the swing high (marked 4.). That would have saved me 12 pips or so across the two trades. My exit should have been close of the 10th candle if not in profit. For the two trades -26 pips -0.69R.



Stop entry and profit target marked in red 1,2,3. This a signal from my other set-up. I have had many break-out signals recently and few from this one. Very straight forward, trying to get in a down trend on a pull-back as defined by MACD rolling off a peak. There were some positive signs about this trade:
  • After the morning breakout the pull back and the price peak I traded off made a double top
  • Clear downtrend in place see earlier 60 minute chart
  • Price has accepted the downchannel resistance
  • MACD hidden divergence (on the 5 min chart not shown) evident, but not really strong
  • Profit target is just inside yesterday's low

I held for 5 candles which I'm bound to do and then took the trade candle by candle, there was lots of pressure on the correlated pairs at S:R levels so I felt that we'd get the move through at some point. That came on the 6th bar and I closed the trade on the 8th bar. +28 pips +0.91R

But I did make an error here. I did not let the trade take out my profit target. I closed it manually 2 pips shy of it. Tut, tut a bit embarrassed I did that to tell the truth.

Good news regarding the month to date. My equity curve is now back above my 20 period(trades) moving average of the equity curve meaning I can increase risk tomorrow, initially to 0.25% per trade idea. I had cut my size recently to 0.125%.

Have been reading an interesting book on the history of probability "Against The Gods" by Peter L Berstein. I definately fnd that studying probability in my 'down time' keeps me (slightly) less emotional and more objective in my live trading sessions. But it's a battle!

Until tomorrow

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 mokodo 
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Wednesday 25th July



Chart shows the 15 minute timeseries for USDCAD. My entry was on the 5 minute chart but this graphic shows more context. The trade idea is that price has rejected the upchannel support (blue shaded elipse) after a sharp leg down early in the London session. I was expecting an ABC pattern that would provide a short entry for the next leg after a retest of the broken trend line. The signal was on the 5 minute chart where the MACD histogram has rolled over. After entry I realised I had made two errors: first the MACD histogram was not showing any weakness in price on the 5 minute chart and secondly my 1:1 risk:reward profit target was past the 10 day volatility band (the grey bands). Hindsight shows that I entered too early as the retest of the broken trend line was right at the end of the London session and the next leg down followed this. I exited once I realised the error. Question is, was it really a mistake or did I know what I was doing and over-riding the rules out of impatience? -2 pips, -0.13R.



The trade is on the 60 minute timeseries. Red lines 1,2 show the stop and entry. Profit target would have been 1:1. The entry is indicated by the small square black dots above the large black dot. This is where MACDh has rolled around. The trade idea is to get in a trend on a pullback, in this case the uptrend in place for the prior three days. Price is above the 100SMA, but has not yet tested the support line - ideally it would. The 15min timeseries MACD is showing divergence and therefore potential strength. After triggering the entry price rolled over and back up (well clear of my stop) and then again during the Asian session. My rule set gives these trade 5-10 bars if not profitable and to exit at my discretion. And I usually look to see what price is doing in term of rotation to limit the losses. In this case the 10 bar would have been -10 pips or so. But that was at 2am and I was asleep. Exited at 7am. This looks like a clear head and shoulders now it's complete!
-22 pips, -0.59R.

My approach is to apply my trend following set up to 5, 15 and 60 minute timeframes. But I have more success with it on the 15 minutes. I think I need to take good look at the reasons behind this. The rationale was to provide more opportunities to ride trends as they develop.

I had upped my risk on the second trade as I was back above my equity line 20 trade MA, but will now cut it again as I am below.

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 mokodo 
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With the end of the month it's time to see how I've performed. I try to leave it until the end of the month to do a detailed analysis. The idea being I can keep focused on executing trades and not get burdened with performance anxiety day to day. Easier said than done of course.

Average Risk or 'R' 0.15%
Number of trades 19
Number of winning trades 6
Number of losing trades 13
Win ratio 31.60%
Payoff ratio 2.35
Largest no. of consecutive losses 4
Av. no. of consecutive losses 2.6
Largest account drawdown % 0.23%

Starting Equity 9837.2
Ending Equity 9817.59
Equity % +/- -0.20%
Net Pips 19

So a breakeven month. I'm happy with the payoff ratio. This shows I am holding my winners well (to profit target in most cases) and that I am managing non-performing trades well by keeping the average losers low. But the win percentage is too low at just over 30%. This is forcing me to keep my risk per trade at a very low level as I am exposed to potentially long runs of losers. This is the reason why net pips for the month are positive (+19) but I lost money in the month.

I have also taken fewer trades this month than in either of the two previous months. That is potentially a concern as I trade intraday and would prefer 25-30 trades a month. My trading plan comprises two set-ups one of which is on the 15 min times series only and another which I can apply to 5, 15 or 60 minute charts. After reviewing performance I am dropping the 5 and 60 minute timeseries. These trades have consistently lost me money, even though they are profitable on backtest. Clearly the issue is with how I trade them. My inkling is that as I monitor the 15 minute charts and have had the same workspace for 18 months, hundreds of hours, I have gotten a feel for reading them. So I am going to research and work up another set-up for the 15 minute, which is based on the work I do pre-session regarding key price levels.

Over three months I have posted a good return in May (2.35%) and two flat months for June and July. Net pips for the 3 months are +306 for 70 trades. This is really encouraging as I am just sensing a bit of consistency coming through and I am making progress in all skill areas. I have a hit list of areas to work on when I start back trading full time in September. I feel that incremental improvement in a few key areas will help me break clear of the breakeven stage.

So a welcome step back in August for family holidays and some other work commitments. I may be able to trade a few days and will update the journal as and when trades are taken.

Until...

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 Adamus 
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Over three months I have posted a good return in May (2.35%) and two flat months for June and July. Net pips for the 3 months are +306 for 70 trades. This is really encouraging as I am just sensing a bit of consistency coming through and I am making progress in all skill areas. I have a hit list of areas to work on when I start back trading full time in September. I feel that incremental improvement in a few key areas will help me break clear of the breakeven stage.

Hi Mokodo, interesting to see your stats. Do you feel like expanding on the "few key areas" where you hope to see improvement, especially in terms of how you plan to do that? Thanks.

Enjoy your holidays!

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 mokodo 
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Thursday 2nd August



Lovely looking set up here as the London session gets moving. Price has accepted the up channel support, sliding up all the way through the Asian session. Red lines 1,2,3 show the stop, entry and target. 1:1 risk:reward. Blue dot shows the signal candle which where the MACD histogram has set a low and is now rolling around. I set my entry stop order 1 pip +spread over the daily high. There is a nice spike down as price whips around giving the move a nice bit of momentum. There is slight divergence on the 5 min MACD showing potential strength.

Price ran to within 1 pip of the profit target and reversed. Trade was taken out by the raised stop, raised 1 pip under the swing low set 6 candles in to the trade.

Nice trade and execution with sound analysis. Very happy with that. -2 pips -0.17R

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 mokodo 
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Hi Mokodo, interesting to see your stats. Do you feel like expanding on the "few key areas" where you hope to see improvement, especially in terms of how you plan to do that? Thanks.

Sure thing.

Issue is... Win rate is too low, 30% for the last two months (was 50% in May)
Plan to.... Get it to 40-50% by working on trade selection

Issue is... Too few opportunites
Plan to.... Work up another set-up (or perhaps a couple more) on the 15 minute charts

Issue is... Not benefiting enough when I'm in strong moves
Plan to.... Identify strong trending days and then not limiting exits to 1:1 risk:reward

My current set-ups are really scalps for 20-40 pips and I try to derive my profit by not losing very much money when I am wrong. So far I have taken very few full stop losses and (generally) the winners go to profit target. I had been applying my two set-ups to 5, 15 and 60 minute time frames; I had assumed that I could apply them equally. This did not happen in practice and I think it's the right decision to drop the 5's and 60's. This leaves me with a problem in that I need more opportunities - I am more comfortable with a trade or two a day so to smooth results over the month. So I am looking at adding another set-up. And one that has been staring me in the face really.

As part of my pre-session routine I drill down through daily and 60 min chats for the 10 pairs I monitor. On these charts I note up SR levels and channels and then use that to determine which direction I should be trading in for my entry charts (15 minute). I am planning to simply trade these levels for ranges or breakouts and spot key inflection points. I reakon I have close to a couple of thousand hours of chart time looking a the same 15 minute charts, time to leverage that asset!

I've already started SIM trading this new set-up and will post up a couple of charts when I get a chance. It is likely these may be swing trades with a 1:2 or greater R:R and possibly scaling in and out. This is all new ground for me but I feel that by limiting myself to only 1:1 scalps I am not giving my account much of a chance to get bigger!

Thanks for your continued interest. Answering your questions helps me get things clearer.

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 mokodo 
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Monday 6th August



Panel 3 paints yellow telling me the 30 minute timeseries is <12 and I tracked for a breakout for the next 20 bars. MACDh is in noise (painting black). So I am satisfied there may be a price run soon. I had set OCO orders as my expectation was a break higher. The reverse occured and price broke lower right on my cut off - in fact 1 second past it. (Cut of is at 16:00BST after which I find volatility to typically tail off).

Price gets to +10 pips and rotates and puts in a lower high. After 10 bars from the entry I am marginally underwater so exit. -2 pips -0.1R.

The charts shows red lines 1,2,3 stop, entry and profit target.

Over the weekend I again reviewed my performance for the last few months. This has been steady and I have played a good defense; I have made a bit of money and perhap more importantly not lost much in any given month when the opportunities weren't there or my trading was off. But it is dawning on me I may actually be trapping myself in a breakeven stage. I impose money management rules that are making it really dificult to make any money! I'm guessing driven by the fear of losing it. For example I will cut my position size as my performance suffers. Seems sensible, but I'm tending to win only with a small amount of risk on and lose when there's more on the table. If I had traded each trade for the last 3 months with constant risk I would have been profitable in each of the three months and the month which was a decent winner would have returned twice as much in cash.

I have growing confidence in my trading skills and in the system I have developed - so it's time to stand by those convictions. So I am upping my risk per trade and I want to risk an average of no less than 0.3% of equity per trade over the next few months. I also think that by simplifying another element of my trading I can concentrate more on executing the next trade. What I do not know is what is going to happen in my head if I am in a losing run and trading with constant size?

Until tomorrow...

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 mokodo 
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Tuesday 7th August



Big move on Friday was unwinding yesterday on the Euro pairs, price stayed choppy and in a range through the Asian session, breaking out early in the London session. My entry is on a pull back of that breakout move, signalled by the blue dot below the signal candle, potentially an ABC structure? There has been an upward bias with successive higher lows since the start of the US session yesterday. MACD shows a bit of hidden divergence indicating potential strength. All in all enough evidence to take the long. Red lines 1,2,3 show stop, entry and exit(s).

As per my plans made yesterday I split my exits, the majority at 1:1 risk:reward and a smaller portion on a wider target. The second target was 1 pip shy of yesterday's high. Once my first target was hit, I raised my stop on the second portion under a minor swing low which was promptly taken out out. If I had raised under a more substantial swing low I would have given the trade a chance. At the time of writing that second profit target level not yet hit but close. Averaging the two trades +29 pips +0.97R. Happy with the analysis and encouraging that I could split the exits and try to hold on for more - more practice needed there.

Also upped risk on this trade to 0.25% of equity and felt comfortable with that too.

Until tomorrow...

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 mokodo 
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As mentioned in a previous post I realised that I need to introduce another set-up to provide more trading opportunties - and one that was not a 1:1 risk:reward scalp which is the case with my two current set-ups. I have taken 4 of these new trades in sim so far and thought I'd post an example.

I've called it Channel SR as it just looks for inflection points in channels or other support and resistance levels. Each day I mark up my charts and look down from the daily, 60 and 15 minute timeframe just to get in sync with the current market structure. I am just using that information to look for these set-ups. Hopefully a good use of my time.




Above is the 60 minute chart showing USDJPY. Over the last couple of weeks or so price has broken through the down channel resitance and is making a potential rounding pattern with two higher lows.



Above is the entry chart. There is a double bottom overnight (UK time) and the entry is at the first break in the London session. Stop is 16 pips and was 1 pip off being taken out by the spike down that testing the up channel. Price then took off and I took off half the position at 2:1 risk reward and let the other half portion ride up below swing lows in the move.



What is the price target for the runner? Above is the daily chart and there is a clear range (denoted by the blue box). A break up and out of this may indicate more upward movement so I will be willing to hold for a test of the level at 78.80.

Until tomorrow...

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 Adamus 
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Over the weekend I again reviewed my performance for the last few months. This has been steady and I have played a good defense; I have made a bit of money and perhap more importantly not lost much in any given month when the opportunities weren't there or my trading was off. But it is dawning on me I may actually be trapping myself in a breakeven stage. I impose money management rules that are making it really dificult to make any money! I'm guessing driven by the fear of losing it. For example I will cut my position size as my performance suffers. Seems sensible, but I'm tending to win only with a small amount of risk on and lose when there's more on the table. If I had traded each trade for the last 3 months with constant risk I would have been profitable in each of the three months and the month which was a decent winner would have returned twice as much in cash.

I have growing confidence in my trading skills and in the system I have developed - so it's time to stand by those convictions. So I am upping my risk per trade and I want to risk an average of no less than 0.3% of equity per trade over the next few months. I also think that by simplifying another element of my trading I can concentrate more on executing the next trade. What I do not know is what is going to happen in my head if I am in a losing run and trading with constant size?

Until tomorrow...

Hi. Just my cents for what they're worth, I dont have experience to back this up but I've read it a lot.

You say your reasons for cutting your position size are (a) when the opportunities weren't there and (b) when your trading is off. Firstly, are either of those conditions proven? Can you know for sure that the opportunities aren't there? Can you know for sure that your trading is off? Also from reading this journal it seems that you are cutting your position size only when you start losing. And that is presumably also the point at which your stats will turn around, if your performance naturally fluctuates.

Your best question IMHO is your last - how do you know if you can handle a losing run at full position size? Surely you should just always trade at a position size that you know you can handle - i.e. smaller - for a full cycle or more of your natural trading performance fluctuation. And then increase it some at that point. But keep it constant between increases. Reduce it only if you start losing confidence in the system or yourself.

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 mokodo 
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Adamus,

Thanks for your post. Yes it has been a 'talk to myself in the mirror' moment! Looking afresh at my myriad of money mangement rules and circuit breakers I can see I am too concerned with losing money. No I do not 'know' that the bad spells are bad or just a just part of the long term pattern of my trading systems/style. The more trading history I have the more I suspect the later - my trading stats tell me that.

I have coded and backtested all the parts of my system I can but there are distretionary elements which make this ultimately only a vague guide for the future.

So I think I have been pulled in opposing directions, a) a need to place all elements of my trading into distinct rules, (thereby putting the responsibility for the outcomes on the rules, not me?) and b) wanting to break free of those restrictions to trade using experience and discretion.

I think all traders employ both approaches in some way, even if it's in what rules to code for algos, perhaps the key is getting the right mix?

So right now I am going along the lines you suggested - had already started doing so. Keep position size constant, small enough not to care and big enough to make a impact to the account balance and to manage a change to that on a monthly basis.

I suspect that my developent as a trader will be speckled with these cross-roads; where I have to nudge myself out of my comfort zone. Slippers are comfortable but they are not the footware for scaling Everest!

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 mokodo 
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Updating my froward live testing for the Channel SR set-up. Second half of the trade was taken out at the raised stop. 1.4 R return for the trade. Looks like price is coming down again to retest the up channel support.

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 mokodo 
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Wednesday 8th August



No live trades today on my existing two set-ups today, but this from a live forward test of a potential new set-up. Chart shows last couple of weeks of EURUSD more recently showing tight double / triple top hard against the upper channel resistance. Price accepted that level and turned away from it through the Asian session.



This is my entry chart. Red lines 1 and 2 are my stop and entry. Price rejects the upchannel support right at the start of the Asian session and price and MACD rollover at the London open. My entry is at a break of yesterday's low and where there is the firsr decent dip in the MACD histrogram. I brought my stop in to the lower swing high and this was taken out by the retracement after the US open. Darn it those stops are just too tight!

Plan for the trade was a 2:1 risk:reward so I expected perhaps holding overnight if things went to plan. As price stalled out at the S2 pivot (where it was showing +30 pips) and US traders didn't get on the move south I felt it was sure to come back - particularly as the pair had dropped 120 pips in the last few sessions without a decent pullback. So -4 pips for -0.16R on this one.

Nice analysis all the same. I have to work on how I am tightening my stops. This was the logical place to pull it to but perhaps outside of the down channel resistance would have been better.

This is a new set-up for me as I am used to (trying) to get one leg winners with 20-40 pip scalps. So a new discipline for me to manage longer trades. Sure is more difficult holding a trade than putting one on!

Until tomorrow...

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 mokodo 
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Friday 10th August



Daily chart for this trade today, price looks like it has accepted the down channel resistance over the last day or two in which case I am looking for shorts.



Apologies if this chart appears a mess - it is. It's a compressed 15 min chart showing the last week or so. There are a couple of symetrical triangles forming, one over the last 10 days and one inside that forming over the last couple of sessions.



My entry chart. Red lines 1,2,3,4 are my stop, entry, target 1, target 2. The set up is a channel break out from low volatility. The yellow paint in the panels 2,3 tell me that ADX is <12 on both the 30 and 60 timeseries and the magenta paint says that level is extreme at <9. MACD histogram is very low and negative for the preceding 10 candles, my expectation was a break lower. My short stop entry is place outside of the swing 10 level which is also under the rising support line that is the lower bounday of the symmetrical triangle forming since the US session yesterday. Price breaks and the first profit target (with half the position) hits in 4 bars. I then sit patiently through the next five hours whilst the flag forms. The second profit target is at the 122 handle also a measured move of the first leg of the move.

I bottled it and came out after price tested the first leg low a couple of times without breaking it. Net for the 2 parts of the trade +36 pips +1.06R with 0.25% account equity on the trade.

I am trying to challenge myself to get more from high probability set ups such as this. My 'normal' approach is to get 1:1 risk:reward, but I want to stretch that which will involve patience. I think I was too confident in my abilites to do this (as it's new ground for me) and split the exits equally. I suspect that if I exited 75% at the first target and only had a smaller part riding on the second I would have given myself a better chance of holding on.

Overall pleased with this trade and the outcome. Done for the week now.

Until next week...

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 mokodo 
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Monday 13th August



Breakout signal here on USDCAD. This is my 15 minute entry chart. The pair have been in a pretty steady down channel and this signal is in the middle of that channel. I had no expectation or preference as to which way the break may go, so set OCO orders oustide of the channel. The potential breakout is signalled by the yellow paint in panel 2 which tells me ADX on the 60 minute timeseries is <12.

Red lines 1,2,3 are my stop, entry and profit target. My entry was set 1 pip +spread above the minor swing high from the Asian session. This trade felt like I was nursing a sick patient, showed early signs of health then tailed off. I was hopeful as AUDUSD and NZDUSD were havng an awful time and I expected USDCAD to mirror some of that action. It did, but not enough to get to my target.

So the story of the trade was: held for 10 candles and then raised stop under a higher swing low. The second time I move that up it was taken out - as you can see from the chart price had rejected the local upchannel support which indicated price was going to rotate down. The price action had become barbed wire and I longed to come out at the market for a better result - but stayed with my rule set. +6 pips + 0.28R

Until tomorrow

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Wednesday 15th August



1 trade today on GBPJPY. It's a breakout setup (yellow paint in the panel three indicates ADX on the 30min timeseries is <12 after which I am tracking for a break of the swing10 for the next 20 bars).

Red lines 1,2,3 show stop, entry and target. I got this entry 07:32 BST, that's right at the start of my session (starts 07:30BST). Price broke and came back for a rotation which I sat through. There was major news on GBP at 09:30. I have a rule for that which says 5 minutes prior if I've a profitable trade on protect it with a B/E stop and if I've got a trade on which is underwater just closed it out.

The reason I have this rule really is to prevent me from entering breakout trades prior to major news on that pair, as typically PA will be choppy until the news breaks and pretty wild afterwards - and I am not a comfortable news trader!

I entered before checking the news flow for the day and came out for a -2 pips, -0.1R loss.



Here's a daily chart for USDJPY which shows the context for a set-up I am live forward testing. Price is looking like it wants to reject the downward resistance line AND the range (blue box) it's been in recently. A close outside and above those two areas may say we are going up?



SIM entry chart. Green area is my "Area of Interest", where I was hopeful that I would see a retrace of the last frew days upwards action. I did and it was a sharp one. My entry is where MACD rolls off it's low AND RSIX is oversold. Stop is under the spike low and is 23 pips. This is a swing trade idea and close above yesterday's high over the next few sessions is what I would like to see. See how this one develops. Leaving profit target open.

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 mokodo 
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Off on me hols and back on 3rd Sept. No trading for me today as I was tying up some other business matters. August has been thin on opportunities for my current set-ups to say the least (only 7 trades), but another positive month on the board. +65 pips for the month, 3 winners 4 losers, average loss for the losers is -0.1R and average win for the winners is +0.77R.

I have started work on my development plan and will finalise that whilst I'm away. Bottom line is that it's time to start increasing my risk per trade (again) and my trading account so that I can see if I can translate moderate success with pennies in to moderate success with larger amounts. I'm intent in bringing on another set-up and redoubling my efforts to progress as a trader in a really structured way.



Here's the sim swing trade one day on for the set-up I'm forward testing. Target is the 80 handle which is just short of a previous high. I'll bring the stop to breakeven and place my target order and see what's happened when I get back.

Until September...

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Tuesday 4th September

No trades from either of my two live set-ups today. Back from my break in France and spent yesterday making the transition from 'holidayer' to trader. Labor Day yesterday as well so did not trade and spent the time catching up on the last 2 weeks of price action and noting up my charts. Didn't look like I missed much, quiet, choppy and rangey for most of the pairs I follow.

Good news flow due up this week for the forex markets so I expect to get my teeth into something. I have also made some domestic changes so I can trade the London open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week. And my day to be involved with my other business is now Friday not Thursday. Those changes should expose me to 25% or more opportunities for my current set-ups.

I have made great progress since going live (again) in May and I have covered a lot of ground and poured the hours into the trading and particularly the self development work. Hadn't really noticed how tired I was as I was enjoying it all so much. Good break and time to reflect and glad to say I feel as enthused about trading now as ever before. Most reassuring is that, with the benefit of time away, I have not felt the need to come back and change anything. I'm happily hitched to my style of trading and now see the work primarily on self-development. If I am being honest I even admitted to myself that my set-ups probably aren't even that 'good' but I seem to be able to make them work for me and, as importantly, I believe I can improve performance the more experience I have with them.

My development goals are three fold for the next few months:

Firstly I am working on 'extension'. My plan was to first get a few set-ups I was comfortable with and focus only on the entries. That is why I purposely set 1:1 risk:reward targets and put a great deal of effort into choosing entries where I felt if the trade did not go my way the loss would be as small as possible. So I was trading set-ups that were good at not losing much rather than making a lot. Now I have become reasonably proficient at this I want to explore the exits as a subset of the entries I take - i.e.still focusing on keeping losers as small as possible. To tilt risk:reward in my favour I will be splitting exits in two. The first part at 1:1 and the second at a further level I determine as achievable.

Secondly is my ongoing work to bring a further set-up into my stable. This is called CHSR (just shorthand for Channel Support Resistance). I mark up daily and compressed 15 minute charts before each trading session to help me get a handle on market structure for my two existing set-ups. This potential set-up is just an extension of that work. I will be looking initially for areas of interest where price may accept or reject the CHSR. I am looking for both intraday day and swing opportunities with this set-up. Objective is work this live forward test to uncover a tradeble rule set and to have a set-up with a greater R:R. I am working towards 1:4

Thirdly I am collating a portfolio of all my set-ups. I hyperlink screen shots of each trade for review and have noticed common features for different sub-sets of each. I have a suspicion that by trying to categorise the different types I may uncover another layer of information that will help me identify the leaders and the lagards.

Lots of other work on the self development front going on in the background too. I have introduced a 'passes' sheet. All of my trades are rule based but discretionary. That being the case the 'marginal' trades can have a big impact. Those that are taken and those that are not. My passes sheet catalogs those I don't take and the reasons so I can review alongside the trades I did take - completing the picture (the passes can therefore also be included in the portfolio). This sheet also forces me to take vaild trades when perhaps I am not feeling confident and I am looking for a reason not to commit. The reason is when I come to write out why I will pass and find there is no reasonI have to take the trade. Definately helpful in getting some of the emotion out.

Another step change I am looking to make is on commitment. I used to wrap myself in 'money management' in efforts to limit losses and that worked - but of course it also meant I limited gains too! So I am stripping that away and using a simpler approach. By doing this and by incrementally increasing my %risk I want to see how I react to having a meaningful amout of skin in the game.

Ramble over.




Daily chart for USDJPY. Update on the swing trade I set on the live forward test of my CHSR set-up prior to my break. Red lines 1,2,3,4 are stop, entry target1, target2. Entry was on a pull back after a break of the range. Ambitious targets were missed but I raised the stop under the next swing higher low after the entry so returned to a scratched trade.

Until tomorrow...

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 mokodo 
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Wednesday 5th September

Showed good patience today as no valid set-ups, but a couple of marginal calls that I passed on. Correct decision. So September is slowly winding up for some action and I am getting into sync too. I did have a trade on the set-up I am testing which is swing trade on EURUSD. Charts and explanation below:



Price perhaps accepting both the overhead channel resistance on both these channel (blue box area) and with some weakness shown by MACD histogram divergence



Entry chart is the 15 minute. Red lines 1,2 are the stop and entry. Targets left open for now as I will see how this develops. I'm aiming for an average Risk:Reward of 1:4 for these swing trades and anticipate taking full stop losses where I am wrong.

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Thirdly I am collating a portfolio of all my set-ups. I hyperlink screen shots of each trade for review and have noticed common features for different sub-sets of each. I have a suspicion that by trying to categorise the different types I may uncover another layer of information that will help me identify the leaders and the lagards.

How are you doing that then, if it's not going to give away any secrets? Are you using a wiki? I tried something like that for a while but the wiki software changed all the image names when I uploaded them and made it difficult to re-use them, let alone get them back.

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 mokodo 
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How are you doing that then, if it's not going to give away any secrets? Are you using a wiki? I tried something like that for a while but the wiki software changed all the image names when I uploaded them and made it difficult to re-use them, let alone get them back.

Hi Adamus, good to talk again. I hope you are well. Not a techy solution at all. I just screen grab the chart and place it in a word doc so I can add my notes. I keep an excel file of all my live trades which includes a hyperlink to a screen shot too. The portfolio idea is just another angle to analyse set-ups.

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 mokodo 
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Thursday 6th September



Daily chart showing the market context for this trade. Very low daily ATR and range for the recent period pointing possibly to an uptick in volatility. Summer trading over and news flow starting to get going again. Price looked poised to accept either the up channel support or the longer term down channel support. The blue box shows the area of interest for a breakout either way.



Here is the compressed 15 min chart, maybe a saucer shape forming there?



Here is my 15 minute entry chart red lines 1,2,3,4 are stop, entry, target1, target2. Yellow/pink area in panel 3 shows ADX on the 30 minute is low (<9 = pink) so I am tracking for a potential breakout for the following 20 bars (5 hours). MACDh in panel 2 is low (paints black under 0.01 on yen pairs) but is above the zero line so my bias was for a break out to the upside. But I set OCO orders for a break either way.

Break was to the upside with a 30 pip stop (under the daily low). Then things got a bit messy. I held the trade 5 minutes prior to BOE rate decision and closed for a -6 pips. I re-entered at the original entry price 5 minutes after the release. Ironically the trade only got moving on the ADP US job numbers release which is not a 'red' news event for this pair so I am permitted to hold through it. My thinking is that the better than expected job number got dollar shorts covering and were buying back dollars against yen - but lord only knows the reason, fundamentals are a complete puzzle to me.

One of my goals currently is to work on 'extension', essentially viewing each trade with a profit target determined by analaysis, not just on a 1:1 risk:reward. As this is new ground for me my approach is to split my trade in two and take off a proportion at 1:1 and then place the second at a further level I believe will be reached. In this case red line 4 is that second target which is the limit of the 20 day volatility band (thank you Fat Tails for this great indi) and also 10 pips or so shy of resistance set back on the 21st August high (left lip of the saucer). Plan is that as I get better at this to assign a greater proportion to the second portion of the trade, so eventually I get AIAO with just the higher target. I existed 80% of the position at taregt1 and the remainder at target2.

Once I factored in the loss on the news effected trade I have +31pips and 1R winner.

My swing trade on EURUSD that I SIM traded was stopped out at 1.2643 (previous post has the details). I still like this analysis and have set a sell stop at 1.2625 with a 40 pip stop to have another go. News spike stopped me out last time and may again. I would like to see a risk sell off into the US close today as eveybody empties the cupboard prior to jumpy jumpy NFP Friday.

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Thursday 6th September

Your screen shots did not work.

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 mokodo 
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Uploaded those again - tested on a couple of browsers, hopefully available now

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Uploaded those again - tested on a couple of browsers, hopefully available now

Yup all good now.

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 mokodo 
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Friday 7th September

Will usually be engaged on other work on Friday's from now on. Wow there were fireworks today. My short stop entry on the EURUSD (SIM trade testing a new swing set-up) at 1.2625 was not triggered so that is canceled. Price well and truly rejected the two Resistance channels and invalidated my trade idea so glad to be away without a loss there.

I have started keeping a portfolio of interesting set-ups and other price activity where I think I can learn something and (hopefully) help develop me as a trader. It feels like I am scratching away at a picture to see if another has been painted underneath. After a week of doing this it definitely feels like it has value, only downside is that it is another element of journaling which is sort of taking over my life.

I have read and re-read Brett Steenbarger's 'The Daily Trading Coach' in the past and now make a point of referring to the notes I took of the book to do (or re-do) exercises that are relevant to my current trading. The ones about finding patterns in past journals of behaviour, thoughts, emotions or externalities that then led to either to good or bad trading periods have been excellent and I absolutely know that when I journal well I trade well - and vice versa. This even seems to work if I have losses, as the journaling helps be dig out of the hole quicker.

But now I think I have a problem of excessive journaling! I use a trade card for each trade which is really an aid for making sure I follow my rules and execution, holds the order info and gives a commentary of the trade itself. At the end of the session the order info is then transferred to my excel trade log, with links to screen shots etc.

Then I have my hand written journal which is at least 2 sides of A4 for each trading day and sometimes much more.Then I keep this futures.io (formerly BMT) journal going. And my portfolio of trades and price action.

I trade a 5 hr slot in the morning and a 3 hr slot in the afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (Mondays is a later start and I am not trading Friday at the moment). During trading I just watch, get in the flow and trade. So all the journaling tasks (except the trade cards) are completed outside of these sessions.

Just venting my emotions over this here. I think a bit of rationalisation needs to be done to keep the benefits but cut back on the time demands. And if that's not possible just keep on trucking with things as they are and hope that experience will lighten the loads as time goes on.

Got to love that journaling though!

Until Monday...

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Hello, I am new to forex and trading in general, looking for tips and advice. I have used Trade Station and love its charting but don't have the $2000 minimum to open a forex account. I opened a Oanda account a few weeks back and have been having some success but feel the charting is lacking. What platform do you guys recommend for day trading forex? I have a written trade plan and have started a journal so I will try and keep a journal here as well. I am trying to keep my trading as simple as possible, currently just trading support and resistance levels. I was up 30% in my first two weeks of trading and gave back 15% in my third week trading. I'm looking for consistency trying to build my account to switch to Trade Station for their charting, and hopefully replace the 9 to 5, which is more like 9:30-11:00pm job. I want to continue to focus on forex while learning more about futures and options. I have had great success with a practice futures account but again lack the capital to open a futures trade account.

Any advice and wisdom is welcome.

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carbazzy View Post
Hello, I am new to forex and trading in general, looking for tips and advice. I have used Trade Station and love its charting but don't have the $2000 minimum to open a forex account. I opened a Oanda account a few weeks back and have been having some success but feel the charting is lacking. What platform do you guys recommend for day trading forex? I have a written trade plan and have started a journal so I will try and keep a journal here as well. I am trying to keep my trading as simple as possible, currently just trading support and resistance levels. I was up 30% in my first two weeks of trading and gave back 15% in my third week trading. I'm looking for consistency trying to build my account to switch to Trade Station for their charting, and hopefully replace the 9 to 5, which is more like 9:30-11:00pm job. I want to continue to focus on forex while learning more about futures and options. I have had great success with a practice futures account but again lack the capital to open a futures trade account.

Any advice and wisdom is welcome.

Cheers
Todd

I use Ninjatrader(NT) and trade spot FX with MB Trading. NT is quite popular because it offer a relatively straight forward way to start coding and is free for SIM trading with a compatible broker. They offer micro lot sizes so that may work for you.

I would say that if you starting with a very small amount of capital the temptation to use high leverage to make money is a usually a sure fire way to lose the lot. Just to make a comparison, you made a 30% increase in your account in two weeks and gave half back in a week. If you look at the other end of the spectrum of hedge funds, etc 30% IN A YEAR. Is high performance. So you get the point about high leverage = high risk.

I do not want to discourage you at all, just bear in mind staying in the game is the No. 1 concern for all successful traders, everything else is secondary to that.

I wish you the best in your endeavor's.

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Family crises stemming from my father's business getting into difficulties hit the fan this weekend. He has asked me to help him sort it out. Pension, savings etc. all on the line for mum and dad, so trading will be on hold for at least a few weeks whilst I try to resolve it for them. Very disappointed about the timing as I really feel like I have made breakthroughs in the last few months - but this is far more important. Hopefully I can just get back to trading when the time is right.

Until October?....

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Hope you can work it out for him, good luck.

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Life is what happens to us while we're busy trading. Best wishes.

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 mokodo 
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Looks like trading may be part of my work schedule from October, albeit only perhaps 2 maybe 3 days a week. Outside commitments are likely to be ongoing for the foreseeable.

Patience, patience, patience. No good running for the bus, sit tight there will be another a long shortly no doubt.

Will take a bit of adjustment as I had developed a good daily / weekly routine that was starting to work. I also found it invaluable to be able to watch price action for hours and hours and that, I felt, was contributing to a growing sense of 'market feel'. Clearly don't want that to evaporate due to stop/go trading sessions.

But very, very glad to know I'll be back in the saddle shortly. Don't think I had appreciated how much fun I have when I'm trading. There were a few moments in the last weeks that it looked like my trading career would be on a permanent hold - and I had a feeling my favorite toy was being locked away in a cupboard.

Until next week (hopefully)...

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 mokodo 
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Tuesday 2nd October



London open and price retested the low from the late Asian session. The red zigzag line shows 3 dips into that retest. Looks like price also accepted the parallel up channel support line. Horizontal lines 1,2,3,4 are stop, entry, target1, target2.

1:1 Risk:Reward on my first target would have put that 2 pips outside of yesterday's high, so I erred on the side of caution and pulled it inside by 1 pip. That's where the moved stalled out. I raised my stop to the swing low and waited to see if price would have another go at the high. It did but didn't break through. I then pulled my stop in tight below the local channel and was stopped out. +25 pips +0.86R. Risk was 0.3% of capital.

OK with this trade as it got going nice and early so not too much heat to sit through. I am trying to stretch out my trades by using a couple of targets and that is proving to be a challenge as I have become pretty good (and comfortable) with aiming for 1:1 risk:reward scalps. By going for more on a second portion I am having to work out if the trade idea is still valid for the runner, so a bit of adjustment. And I haven't called one right yet.

I am also in a trade on USDCAD and will post a chart later. Looks like it will come in a loser but it has 'til 17:30 BST to prove me wrong.



The yellow and pink paint in panels 2 & 3 shows ADX on the next two time series up (60 & 30 minutes respectively) <12 for yellow <9 for pink. So I am tracking for a breakout of the Swing10 level. I get that but PA is horrible barbed wire and I have that sinking feeling almost immediately "I will have nurse this sick puppy"!. Rule set says let it run for 10 15 bars which I do, so great discipline there. Then I drill down to the 5 minute chart to see if I can get a price rotation and come at with the best loss I can. Greedy me, I could have come out at -6 pips and had my finger on the order. Market gets the last laugh and I close for -12 pips, -0.42R loser.

A net profitable day and I feel I traded my plan well. Also a new equity high, so that's welcome news too.

Until tomorrow...

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 mokodo 
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Wednesday 3rd October



I'm not a woulda, coulda, shoudla type but boy was I close today!. First off is a beautiful breakout set up that breaks 1min before my trading session starts at 7.30 BST. Damn those rules! I was mulling that missed opportunity for the rest of the day.

Insult to injury, I was served up a consolation prize and manage to bodge it. The pull back from the breakout came back for an ABC set-up (my signal candle has a red dot over it). Trend lines looked good, MACDh showing strong hidden divergence. In short this is money waiting to be picked up and put in my trading account.

I get the entry and position size to the local swing high which is 18 pips, so I have a largish position on. I hold for my mandatory 5 candles and then - as ADP numbers come out - raise that stop too tight. And it gets pinged for a scratch. Red lines 1,2,3,4 are stop, entry, target1, target2.

Now proper trade management would have been to assess my risk and reward potential objectively and bring the stop in looser to above the local swing high. Max loss then would have been half it was at the outset of the trade so I would have been in a minimum 1:2 risk:reward scenario. Add to that the fact that price had a small rotation and when no higher then the original trade idea was stronger still.

So a good lesson learned today - "Commit To The Trade". And gratful it only cost me the opportunity not hard earned cash.

Until tomorrow...

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 mokodo 
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Thursday 4th October



Oh boy oh boy. I totally lost it today. 3hrs sleep was not a good start (working late then my 2 yr old wanted to play!). I got to my desk late and missed the attached entry on USDCHF for a breakout. I entered late but at the same level I would have if I was there ready and waiting. It was a rush to get the order in and I hadn't done any of my pre-trade checks. Be flexible I said to myself, but I felt very uncomfortable about it and the price action was reminiscent of the loser I had earlier in the week. I bailed before giving the trade a chance. 'If in doubt get out ' was ringing in my head. 2 pips loss there. My rules say I do not chase trades and I did here which is why I felt uncomfortable and why I puked it. I'm not sore I missed the big move down as I would have got out at my predetermined timed exit before it ran away. I am just mad as hell about my lapse in concentration.



And then I go and do the whole thing again! I should have passed on this entry, for various reason it is not a good opportunity for me. But I take it, it ticks all the boxes for my mandatory rules but is weak in terms of context. I changed my stop level from my predetermined one to make it more 'appealing' and once again puked it out for a couple of pips loss. By this point I was totally confused. No poise or market feel at all.

I got out of both positions because the process for getting in was all wrong. I had not undertaken my morning routine, or pre-trade checks. I rushed and was in a fog. Then I thought "hey this is just how I used to trade" and took solace in the fact that I could at least make the distinction between a good process and poor one.

Saving grace is that I squeezed another drop of experience into the bucket. And still flat for the week/month so far after a truly dismal start! No trades 'til next week for me. Regroup and re-focus.

Until next week...

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Taken a step back today to review and plan. My commitments outside of trading have increased and my current approach will not fit, so some changes to be made. Back to basic so I have summarised my beliefs about trading as a starting point. I've been keeping an unordered list of these since I started trading and have added to them as time went on. Today I reviewed and loosely categorised them. Whatever I do now will be built upon these beliefs.

I believe in probabilistic thinking:

Monthly performance is the minimum window to assess performance, no less than 20 trades

Remain balanced and objective – probability rules, not ‘this trade’. Belief in the probabilities and my money management will always keep me calm. No one trade matters.

The longer the trend line has been in place the stronger it is. Trade in accordance with the longer term trend lines.

Expect a sporadic profile, periods of no trades, flat trades, incremental improvements and, occasionally, spells of big opportunity or big steps forward - take more risk in the later cases.

Develop a mindset that stops attempting to avoid mistakes but, rather, becomes curious about learning from the mistake – this is the road to probability thinking.

London and US open are where the volatility is, statistically look to these sessions for LOD and HOD.


I believe in being balanced:

Don’t trust myself to make accurate intuitive predictions, they will be over-confident and extreme, vs Consistently formatted, long term chart time will contribute to effective intuitive decision making.

Getting into balance is paramount. Tune in calmly to the flow of the markets. Do not trade unless I am ‘in sync’.

Time away from active trading is essential. After a run of 7 losers taking a few days off to look at the past performance, and to highlight the good and the bad and set goals for the next phase of active trading.

Accept that trading is in shades of grey, not black and white. Good is usually good enough to trade it. Do not get paralysed by perfection.

15 minutes charts showing 10 days give me the best view for my set-ups.


I believe in having commitment, trust and patience

Back-testing is essential to gauge likely limits of loss, loss runs, profit potential, and to get to know the character of a strategy; but can not take into account the live environment.

Patience to wait for exactly the right trades. Wait for the trade to come and for it to end.

When you have your advantage (edge) vindicated by the market through winners press them for all they are worth. Know when to commit to greater risk. When I’m right 50% or more in a month increase risk and commitment.

5% of trades will deliver much of the profit. Get in position for these opportunities, commit and stay all the way.

Trades will either bore you out or scare you out, combat those and you have a better chance of staying with the trades.

Where there is no new news price tends to rotate in ranges and channels, in these instances I can wait for better exits. Identify those set-ups and entries which, when they do not work, offer the opportunity for price to rotate around to get out at a much better price. I do not want to ANY full stop losses.

I can trade out of draw downs


I believe in managing my risk

Stay out of the market as much as possible.
(End of month is weird (rebalancing etc)
Monday am and Friday pm observe
Big ups and downs = no direction, stay out
August, thin trading & outsized moves)

Protect my emotional capital – do not hold positions (past my time limits) unless they are risk free, do not hold positions through closed markets.

Position size is an important element of profitability (and is effectively free money if implemented correctly). Identify trades with position sizing in my favour.

Money management is the key

Focus efforts on making losing trades as small as possible. Use this as a primary metric of performance. I want very small average losers. That means only taking the best set-ups.

Traders’ equation should be assessed before and during a trade, is the reward still greater than the risk? Always ask this key question “How Can I Risk Less & Make More”


I believe in my independence and my ability to improve

Ignore conventional ideas about work and work ethics, trading is only about results. Do not feel compelled to conform to the norm.

Ignore, distrust or question all external advice and information.

Develop unconventional perspectives in conflict with other ‘typical’ traders.

Everything a trader does is to advance ‘their’ trading.

The more I observe the greater the chance I will achieve a perception shift that brings another layer of clarity

When making a new equity, high, best day or other new achievement (could be low MAE, or any metric) immediately set a new goal to better it.

Hunt out sources of new (market) information that can add to my edge, avoid cross over of information this will cause analysis paralysis.



I believe in my rules and my process

Consistent application of my rules is the only way to benchmark and therefore improve.

Engage with the market on my terms: trade my hours, my strategies, my targets.

I can only play for big moves once my scalps are in the bag, and for scalps big moves are irrelevant. I am not missing out on anything – it’s not in my plan.

Targets are key. This takes out an element of the unknown. Of all things that could happen I’m only interested in what happened from ‘here’ to ‘here’ and nothing before or after.

Novices look at the intra-day current price action, pros look at what’s come before.

Just do the next thing on the list – i.e. think about the process never the outcome. Thinking about the outcome invites anxiety.

Preparation & Readiness: know which set-ups are coming and get ready!

Do not underestimate the value of ‘ramp-up’ time after a holiday or days away from observing price. Daily and 15 minute charts have to be worked on to ‘tell the new story’. Only when this is done should trading start. 3 days after a 2 week break.

Only review forex news before a trading session or to help explained drastic price action (this is to reduce event risk). Do not refer to market commentary whilst trading. I am making the decisions according to my rule set.

When contemplating a trade ask myself open ended questions about it – say these aloud. Helps to keep the mind open.

  • Prepared, Ready & Alert
  • Committed & Confident
  • Do The Next Thing
  • Clear My Mind & Get In The Flow
  • Patience, Patience, Patience

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Completed a review of all my live trades since May to see if I can unearth any patterns. Possibly have and it may potentially solve a problem for me. I have focused since May on my entries and setting 1:1 risk:reward targets. My thinking was do this first and then work on making the most of those trades which could keep going to get a decent payoff ratio. Of course another way to work towards a advantageous R:R is to keep the profit targets (which I seem to be able to identify and get hit) and just reduce the initial stop level and position size accordingly.

Well holy cow. I backtested with an arbitrary stop half my previous level and the results were far, far better.

So I'm looking at making this change for both my set-ups. I would only enter trades which offered only a 1:2 risk:reward or better. Looking at the screen shots of my live trades nearly all the profitable trades didn't pullback past the signal candle so I am confident this is a positive step to make. In practice I think my average stop loss would come down to the 10-20 pip range where it is currently twice that.

I'm proposing to cut my risk in half and trade this live approach live. I do have 5 minute charts up for the pairs I trade, so it may be a case of referring to those for entries. I'm still trawling through Al Brooks price action books so that could feed in here too.

One other change is that I am cutting down the number of pairs I will trade (from 10 to 4). Reviewed my stats and will only trade my best performers. So I can concentrate on the details of a few rather than the bigger picture for more.

This seems like a big change to me, although it really is just a small amendment to my trading plan.

Until tomorrow...

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Tuesday 9th October



After my 'revelation' (perhaps overdoing it a bit), I watched and soaked up the PA today. I have amended my trading plan to apply a tighter stop in efforts to target a consistently higher risk:reward per trade.

Now this is really a fairly minor amendment but it has so far hit me for six in how I assess trade opportunities. The trade above was on SIM, but I applied my amended stop rules to the letter. The set-up is the same as it has been for months, a turn in MACDh with price coming off a TL, and or (although not in this example) MACDh hidden or regular divergence on either the 15 or 5 minute chart. This set-up has a nice 3 dips and pop look about it and as the Asian session retrace bottoms into the London open - it could do the 'pop', which it did.

All that is different is that I placed my stop under the signal candle -1 pip and position sized accordingly, rather than the swing low. I set the first target at 2R and the second free for a runner. As you can see the runner was taken out as price dipped under the swing low as the first leg of the move retraced, so a 2R return.

I was going to trade live with half my usual risk% but chickened out. A day in SIM felt like the best way to 'try before you buy'. Happy with the change so far but can see it will take some work to get comfortable with.

Until tomorrow...

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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I haven't a ticket for any of these buses.

I have had no valid signals from my set-ups this week. Partly down to tracking fewer pairs and that PA has not been in sync with them. So I sit and wait and wonder as big fat moves take off across the forex markets - without me.

Do I fight the last battle and ditch my set-ups and go hunting for new ones. Hopefully I am just sitting in the long grass of an outlier week (or two), so no I'll stick with my old friends. But it does expose a potential weakness in that I only have set-ups that come into play for certain market environments and I don't plan to sit and wait and wonder endlessly. What if the world has changed and no one has told me? So out with the ninjascript and my new toy matlab to work up a few ideas.

Until...

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 mokodo 
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Friday 19th October



Breakout setup on EURJPY a 08:00BST. Red lines 1,2,3 show stop, entry and 1st profit target (I planned to leave a third of the position in the market for a runner). A nice looking set-up here. My bias was to the short side as price had rejected sloping support in the early Asian session and then pulledback to that line and accepted its resistance. No follow through after the break that triggered my short stop, but went again after the price rotation back up to resistance. Rule set says hold for 10 (15min) candles after entry and then hold only if bars are closing in the direction of the trade. I came out on the close of the 11th bar which was a bull bar. -4 pips 0.2R loser. That leaves me about flat for the month.

Fairly good analysis here as price did then proceed to my 2R profit target (although it only clipped it so not sure I would have filled if I was still in the trade). I have a time stop option on all my trades which I am comfortable with, but this has worked against me recently as I 'm closing trades that get going shortly after I'm out. So I will review the window I give them. Without a hard rule here I would stop trading and start hoping. So still better to work on my analysis and try to get in at the opportune moment rather than get in too early and ride my luck.

I've had a few curve balls come at me with my other work commitments recently which has soaked up time and distracted me from trading my normal routine. I've worked out I am not happy trading part-time. I need to be immersed to read the PA clearly and be confident in my decision making. So I will not be trading much in the run up to xmas. The spare time I do have I have been working on a new strategy/coding/back testing that may be fit more neatly with my other commitments.

This is real blow as I want to dedicate my time to becoming a better trader. An unwelcome delay to be sure, but I will keep trying to move my trading forward whatever the obstacles.

Until...

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 mokodo 
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No live trades from me since the 4th October. Other work commitments have come along and taken a great big bite of my time. This post may appear off topic but I think it has some worth.

I have been throwing myself at a project to help turn my father's business around. We've had to make most staff redundant, some with decades of loyalty. Totally rethink how things are done and get the new version of the company operational in under four weeks. It has been emotional and testing, tempers have frayed for others but to my surprise I stayed calm.

I think my trading experience has bled into other areas of my life - a totally unexpected and welcome consequence. A project like this would ordinarily drain me and I would be as frantic as everybody else. But, we had a plan and we executed it. I kept telling everyone 'just do the next thing on the list'. We kept everyone only focused on the next step in the plan, line by line without any emotion being invested in whether the plan would work, was this the best plan to adopt, none of that. And if my 2 years trading have taught me anything it is this - getting anxious of the outcome is pure wasted energy. If you believe your plan is sound, just stick it out line by line, assess it later when those steps have had a chance to amount to something.

I can't remember which webinar on futures.io (formerly BMT) it's in but there is a great analogy of a pair of scales with 'anxiety' on the one the side and 'energy' on the other. If you remove the anxiety you get 100% energy (and vice versa) and I can absolutely attest to that.

Another month or so working on this and then the plan is to come back to trade at least 3 days a week.

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 mokodo 
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Planned up my work schedules for the next six months and I will be back live trading in the new year Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays.

I've just re-read this thread after a good number of weeks away, bored myself silly - no one needs to read a run through of mechanical entries and exits time after time. So I'll be putting more psychological stuff in when I start up again in the new year. That should help me more (and probably be more interesting for anyone else who stops by).

A couple of recommendations for xmas reading if you are into the psycho side of things: 'Bounce' by Matthew Syed. The copy on the cover says it all 'the myth of talent and the power of practice'. Brilliant insight into the benefits of long term purposeful practice. I've taken a whole lot from this book and it explains how/why top performers perform better. The good news is anyone can follow the steps to reach those goals.

The other is by a British clinical psychologist Dr Steve Peters who works with top sports people, it's called The Chimp Paradox. The book lays out a framework for how your mind works and uses simplistic actors/agents to explain what is going on in there. The theory is that each person is actually two people: the chimp and the human. Understanding that your chimp is not actually you, just something you were born with and are responsible for offered an intriguing perspective and something that is 100% applicable to trading. I've started asking people 'and how is your monkey today' as a way of promoting the whole concept!

Merry Xmas and see you back in 2013 for the next chapter.

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 mokodo 
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Hello futures.io (formerly BMT). Back to trading routine today after 80+ days away. I have been gearing up over the last week, watching charts and reviewing set-ups, etc. Conclusion is (again) not to change anything substantial , just try to get better with the same approach, tweak here, tweak there.

I will be allowing myself more discretion with my set-ups as I definately feel my skills at reading structure and PA have improved and I want the latitude to go with my gut more often. The analogy I came up with is a dog on lead. I was very rigourous with my discipline regarding set-up criteria in the past and this was good as it forced me to stay (nearly) entirely rule based, but as my understanding of market dynamics improved I could feel trades coming, but did not have a set-up to exploit them. These urges were for trades close to but not exactly within my rule set. So I've just lengthened the lead a bit so the dog can roam around and sniff out more opportunities. But not roam too far, or the feedback mechanism will be weakened and I'll not be able to learn much from these trades.



Big case of first date nerves today. I passed on this breakodown on EURJPY. A volatility breakout trade, all looked good but I just bottled the commitment for the original entry. I even put in a limit order to get the pullback which I also bottled.



GBPJPY short (red dot) here with some hidden divergence on the MACD. Again, I dithered and did not commit to the entry.

Not sure why I could not pull the trigger today. My risk is small at 0.3% of equity per trade and I was confident in my set-up and analysis. Tomorrow's goal will be commit to the trade idea.

Hat-tip to @Silver Dragon for stealing this journaling tactic:

Best things I did today:
  • got back to trading - whoo hoo!
  • good analysis on Yen strength
What did I learn today:
  • can't make money if you don't put on trades
  • first rule of trade club - you have to trade

Other stuff. Just finished Nicholas Nasim Taleb's new book 'Antifragile', very much in the same vein as some of his others (Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan). If you are into probability, I'd suggest reading any of these to get a different angle. It feels excellent to be trading again.

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 Big Mike 
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 mokodo 
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Thanks @Big Mike, feels great to be back, understand you have been unwell - wishing you a speedy recovery

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 mokodo 
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So the loser first, actually 2 losers, but I class as one as I split the trade idea across two currency pairs (GBPJPY & EURJPY). PA is pretty much the same for both so I'll describe as a single trade.




Ignore the second set of entry/exit arrows as my data connection went down and they reprinted when NT reconnected.

Eager Beaver this morning and I rushed this idea. My thinking that we would see a lower high on Yen pairs and then short it. I look to the London & US opens for price extremes for the day and I got in without proper preparation (got to my desk 30 mins late). As you can see the price extreme happened later in the London session and tagged the upper channel resistance. That was the entry. Sloppy preparation and I paid for it. 1R loss across the two trades.



Open trade on EURUSD. I saw price coiling into a symmetrical triangle, so reckoned on a breakout (areas of interest are the blue rectangles). I set a limit order after the breakdown to try to get the pullback. I did but the order was only partially filled, about 2/3rds of the size I wanted. Most of the target is at 2R, with a bit more at 4R. Stop is now inside entry so will let this play out. Trade idea is that price will slide down those channels, although it starting to look pretty choppy. I'm experimenting with changing my bars to Heiken Ashi once I'm in a trade, simply to avoid monitoring price too closely. Seems to help.

Best things I did today:
  • did not get at all emotional after an early loss, took a 5 minute break and cleared my head
  • was nicely in the zone for the rest of day
What did I learn today:
  • no excuse for poor preparation, remember: be prepared, ready and alert
  • don't 'fiddle with the middle'
edit: EURUSD stopped out for a scratch

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 mokodo 
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No trades in this post, just a bit of rambling.

I bought into the idea that success in trading would be driven mostly by what is in my head and since then I have spent a great deal of time and effort on my personal psychology. And I believe this is responsible for making me a break-even trader. A status I am actually very proud off (for now), considering how poor I was for the first 18 months or so.

As with any type of progress, it is seen most clearly in hindsight and looking back today I think I have identified another step change in my psychology.I spent much time reading various trading psychology books and exploring themes on the web, trying out all manner of practical, tactical techniques. You know the sort of thing, yes I have done all these!
  • affirmations in the mirror ("I am a calm and confident trader")
  • bite on a pencil (exercises the same muscles in your face as smiling, and triggers the same responses)
  • pull up an empty chair and jump from one chair to the next asking myself (hey Mike, why did you just take that trade?)
  • relaxation exercises
  • EMT (tapping parts of your face / neck, as per acupressure)
  • and of course, some long dark hours and plenty of soul-searching
  • there are others, some even more weird!
Some helped, some hindered, but I carried on reading and trying different things out. I was trying out different psychological approaches, just like I tried out different chart indicators and trading methods. And just as when I stopped trying out different indicators, my trading improved by sticking with the same approach, I think my trading will again improve by sticking with the same psychological approach.

In my case this is a really straight forward method that I can work on daily and get better at. The 'Holy Grail' syndrome can apply to psychological methods too, so be aware of that.

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 mokodo 
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This is a 60 min chart as it shows the structure a bit better than the 15s I trade from. My trade is not shown, but I went for a short on the basis that price would except the overhead resistance during the Asian session. This was taken out for a full stop. But I am really happy with that I took this trade, as my risk was 20 pips and profit target in the middle of this broad channel at 100 pips. This is part of a new set-up that I am live forward testing (with real money, but very little of it at risk). The set-up is based on channels and market structure. 1R loss.



Another example of the new set-up (on EURUSD), this is a price rejection of the sloping down channel. Blue box is my entry zone, which is a pullback after the break to the breakout zone, price spike down is clear on the 15 minute chart I trade from, but hard to see on the 60s I posted here. I have only just stopped crying for missing this one. I just did not spot the set-up coming. There is a dynamic at work when using different set-ups as my mind plays out the scenarios of each. And when these are in conflict it can be difficult to get a sense of clarity on what I am looking at. I expect this will be overcome with practice.



Pretty much the exact same set-up on GBPUSD. Saw it coming, but just fumbled my entry and missed it.

Best things I did today:
  • prepared for the day well
  • stayed calm and objective, despite a loss and missing two great opportunities - there are buses around every corner!
What did I learn today:
  • don't underestimate the importance of getting a clear picture on the action
  • more practice needed to integrate my different set-ups into a whole trading package
  • be one step ahead of set-ups unfolding, however fast that is

know thyself
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 strike333 
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anyone here a 15min scalper in fx? between 7pm-11pm eastern. Is there a good strategy?

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 mokodo 
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I trade forex on 15 minute charts, though I would not call my self a scalper. I am (trying) to move my targets out to 40 pips plus and with runners on after that.

Any good strategies? Hell everything works some of the time! I can't really offer any advice. Just start researching and see what chimes with your personality and trading style - and see where it takes you.

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 strike333 
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I wonder how people combine fundamental with technical. I think trading 15 minute chart, can't really combine fundamental, where as someone trading a daily chart you can

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 mokodo 
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I don't consider fundamentals consciously - that suggests causality, which I don't go along with. I find it easier to work out what I'll do in response to something happening rather than trying to understand what made it happen. I just track news to avoid event risk.

Many traders trade from a certain time series but refer to other time series to build a picture of market structure. I work on the daily chart and then compress my 15 minute chart so that I can see the last 14 or so days to work out 'where am I?' and then consider price action and set-up opportunities from a more typical/expanded 15 minute chart.

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 mokodo 
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Said I was done for last week, but spotted a decent looking trade early on Friday so I set a limit order to get it. Got my first target and stopped out for BE on the second half.

Today's trade was a volatility breakout. I shorted under the Swing10 when price pierced the slopping support. It ran to +12 pips against a 14 pip stop and then rotated. Retail sales figures and other news from the US was due out so I tighten the stop to within a few pips and was taken out.

I had more risk on today's trade so marginally profitable across these last two trades.

AUDUSD is looking like a good candidate to get a decent move soon. There has been substantial resistance at 1.06 and the dailies are showing price coiling into a wedge.

Best things I did today:
  • Managed this trade well today, gave it a chance and closed off to cut off threat of a news spike/slippage
  • Took a trade with a good R:R (x2R), and passed on other set-ups with poor R:R (<x2R)
  • Read the market pretty well
What did I learn today:
  • Remember to think like the person who just took the other side of my trade

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Posting this to remind myself that I live in a world of 'could', not would or even worse - should.

The difference may seem insignificant but I think it is not. Could says I had a choice, I could take the trade or I could decided not to. Would blames something else for my actions. Too many woulds tells me I am not taking responsibility. Should undermines me, I am self doubting and lacking confidence.

I missed a couple of stellar trade opportunities last week. These were once a month type trades and my month target could have been pegged in a day. Clearly I was sore at missing them. I could have taken them but did not and that means it was my decision.

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 mokodo 
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Looked like a trend day on Yen pairs after a decent overnight sell-off. I shorted GBPJPY towards the end of the London open as price was accepting the down slope resistance. First target hit on the spike down off support. The second half was stopped out over the local swing high. I did not really believe that there was much more to go south here, but gave the second part of the trade a chance to prove me wrong. 25 pip stop well used with a MAE of 7 vs a MFE of 48. +1.2R



Again took a short off of sloping resistance, which was also the range high. Bit of an execution error here. First target was supposed to be set at 2R, but I put it at 1R and it was hit before I realised. 2nd target was tucked inside the base of the range and was hit pretty soon afterwards. I had less risk on this trade (my usual is 0.3% of capital) as this is new set-up I am testing and I went in with a short stop (11 pips), which was a bit too tight in hindsight. MAE was 8 pips and nearly took me out. Pleased with having the conviction to take this one, and good patience to hold it down to the second target.

And I am having a bit of fun late on here. I have written into my trading plan that where I have a decent day I can use 10% of the profits for a 'barbell' trade. That is a trade/ or trades with very little chance of coming off but with a great payoff if they do. GBPUSD could be bouncing off of support on the daily charts and I have gone long here with a tight stop @ 1.6. Shutting down the charts and see where we are tomorrow am. I am aware that this is really 'gambling'.

Best things I did today:
  • Took a live trade for my new set-up
  • Really was reading the market well
What did I learn today:
  • Sometimes there is no harm done by waiting an extra bar

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 mokodo 
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I've always struggled with this old trading axiom. After all every winner and very many losers all go 1 pip or tick in profit. So how to incorporate this wisdom?

I have tried and failed with numerous approaches. A popular one that I grappled with was to bring in my initial stop to local swing highs / lows with a few pips of extra breathing space. This worked fine, but it did not offer any protection to a trade that moves fast in your direction and reverses hard to take out a full stop loss. And I found it was these that hurt me (emotionally) the most. I would feel sick.

My current approach does not refer to price action at all. I simply bring the trade to breakeven when price has advanced to the same level as my initial stop. So if I have a 15 pip stop, I'll bring the trade to breakeven once it has move 15 pips in my favour. My rationale is that I will be proved right on the trade idea once I have the same level of profit as I risk, more than that and I am simply 'more' right. If I get stopped out I have protected my capital as the trade is a scratch. My forex broker allows me to position size down to the microlot level, so a pip either way on the size of the stop can effect the amount of weight of the trade. So if I have a tight stop I want to be 'safe' on the trade as quickly as I can, whilst giving the idea a full shot at proving me right or wrong.

I have found the emotional effect of not profiting from a trade which does travel after such a stop out is less than seeing one reverse sharply for a full stop loss. On that basis the approach may offer a positive emotional expectancy.

This does result in more scratched trades, but, I'm telling myself: as there are so many opportunities every day in the markets, does it really matter?



This one from last night, I bet that GBPUSD would break above 1.6 and went in with an 11 pips stop. Trade was a scratch as per the approach above.



This also from last night. Another scratch on a 16 pip stop.

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 mokodo 
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After I scratched my barbell trade from last night for a breakeven I allowed myself another shot. This was a daft idea and I was quickly slapped on the wrists. I tried to call the top to the rally in EURJPY. No matter how many legs up you leave it, no matter how many divergences you have, no matter how many fibs say 'this is the top', there is always another leg up. Let the market show you it's hand before acting (in the form of a breakdown in this instance). I only had tiny risk on this trade and was happy with the idea just not with the execution.



Sound idea, poor exit execution. I am looking to short an ABC pattern after the significant run down in the Asian session. The retracement has three legs up and is rounding over against the sloping channel resistance. MACD on the 5 mins is diverging so I enter with a stop above the blue zone. I get the rotation to +11 pips, but it reverses and I then decide to wait out the next rotation to take a smaller loss.

So lesson here is that I get that feeling - just a a couple of pips lowers for a breakeven exit - and off course at this point I am hoping not trading, a sure indication to just get straight out. So a marginal loss turns into a 0.5R loss.

I waited all day for the AUDUSD short to set up and applied that short bias to other pairs. As a result I passed on two other valid signals which are still traveling!

Up for the week still and breakeven for the month so far. The breakeven trader rides again.

Best things I did today:
  • Didn't take a (revenge) re-entry on AUDUSD, which would have been a full 1R loser
What did I learn today:
  • Applying a bias is a mixed blessing
  • Don't call tops or bottoms
  • Hoping not trading? = Get straight out

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 mokodo 
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Spent the day stalking set-ups on EURJPY, GBPJPY, GBPUSD and AUDUSD - without any triggering. I waited and waited and waited and made a cup of tea, and waited and waited and did some reading and waited and waited and ....................... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

And then just as I was closing up - a set-up didn't quite trigger.

Best things I did today:
  • Waited
What did I learn today:
  • Some days it's all about waiting

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 DarkPoolTrading 
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Best things I did today:
  • Waited
What did I learn today:
  • Some days it's all about waiting

Nicely done. Trading out of boredom is a killer. Sometimes you start seeing setups which aren't really there the more you stare at the chart. Im starting to find that a lot of what trading is about is waiting and not feeling that I have to be in the market.

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 mokodo 
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I paid for an education today. No charts but here's the story.

1) I deliberated at taking a long off the bottom of a range on GBPUSD at 08:30GMT - I had my finger on the trigger but could not commit. This was the trade of the day and would have been my day's work done. I missed it, double guessing myself, and it lingered with me all day.

2) I shorted the top of the same range 2 hours later, and the trade came within 1 pip of my 1st profit target (for a probable 2R winner)- I wanted to nudge the order up to get the fill. I didn't and it reversed back for a scratch.

3) I tried to short the same level twice more in the afternoon session and bailed for breakevens on both occasions. I had lost confidence at this stage and could not just let the trades play out. As I'm typing that trade idea is playing out with a breakdown in GBPUSD right off the level I was in at earlier.

4) Earlier in the morning I shorted the overnight high on EURUSD on a spike, which wasn't a spike as it proceeded to blow straight through my stop (-1R).

5) Shorted the daily high on EURJPY but rushed it and messed up my position sizing / stop (-1R). Again that trade idea is playing out off the level I entered earlier.

But not a bad day. All the trades today are off a set-up I am live forward testing and had luckily cut my risk to 0.15% of my trading capital per trade - so even though the summary is -2R the losses are bearable.

I've got two set-ups I've used for over 18 months and this one is a third I am trying to add. The reason I wanted to add another set-up is to be open to more opportunities. I want to take just a few good trades a day (don't we all?). Most common version is just a range trade off SR or channels but I am getting in way too early. My draft rules say I've got to wait for at least a couple of MACD divergences. On none of these 5 trades did I show enough patience and with the EURUSD trade just didn't apply the rule at all. So money well spent to burn new neural pathways with - "the pan is hot, it burns my fingers when I touch it".

Does anyone else get the feeling of being incredibly close to a break-through but finding yourself not actually breaking through? I can clearly identify where I need to improve with this set-up which is a good thing - and it did take me many months to get competent with my others, so perhaps expecting too much too soon.

But oh Lord above give me the strength to stay the course!

Best things I did today:
  • Cut my risk
  • Shut it down - when my monkey was yelling at me "win your losses back you chicken"
  • Clarified a rule to allow the market to show its hand before jumping in
What did I learn today:
  • My monkey is very powerful
  • Don't over-ride my pre-trade analysis
  • It's coming, it's coming, stick with it!!

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 mokodo 
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Better today. Took a trade for my new set-up and did indeed wait and wait and wait before getting in. And then waited and waited and waited for the 'impending' reversal. After a couple of hours of drift I said "I'm now just hoping it's going to go my way" so closed out for a scratch. So I think I called a good area of resistance, and called it right to bail too. So that feels like a minor victory.

I've probably got another 3 days of trading left this month and I'm just underwater for the month. I've written off my soft target of a 2.5% return for January. Self-imposed rule says 2 consecutive months with a 2.5% return or better and I can add more money to my trading account (a three fold increase).

More work to be done, but I do feel like there is a breakthrough lurking in the shadows.

So far this month I have taken 16 trades; 4 winners, the rest scratched or losers. I'm tracking MAE and MFE and have 165 MAE vs 298 MFE, close to a 1:2 on the 'pain ratio'. So I feel like I am calling some decent trades but not (yet) banking profits from them. Perhaps more attention to target levels. I am starting trades off with a first target at twice the stop level and a second target 4 times the stop level - and the plan was to adjust them as the trade develops. I haven't done so as I wanted to get the habit of sticking with a trend by sitting on my hands. If I start 'bringing in the targets' surely I'll just bring them closer and closer and closer?

Average winner / average loser is 1.5:1.

Best things I did today:
  • Good patience
  • Laughed at myself for getting 'all worried'
What did I learn today:
  • My monkey may be strong, but he ain't that smart
  • Any preservation of capital, however slight, is a big win

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 mokodo 
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No charts today, but a video instead. This is 5 minutes worth I put together at the end of the session. Notice how calm and considered I am, how hindsight makes it all soooo explainable. I have another video which I recorded as the day happened and would have posted that, but it runs on far too long. You really can't imagine I am portraying the same day.

It will be far more helpful for me to post up the 'as it happens version'. I watched it back and realised just how muddled my thinking was today.

The underlying issue is that I am trying to bring on another set-up (I'm getting too few opportunities on my established set-ups) but the rules are currently so lax it really is just gut feel +price action. Which, when it works, feels absolutely the right thing to do, but when it doesn't feels like I am trading for the first time.

I know I am in a doubting phase, as over the weekend I coded a quick strategy to test out a totally new idea. It stank, but I matched up periods of doing this with previous times when my performance seemed to stall. I pulled myself out of that mindset quick and said - stick to your guns, don't change anything. That is hard when it doesn't seem like it's working.

Ummm, one of those pondering days when you start to think of posting an ad - 'edge wanted any price paid'.

Best things I did today:
  • Stayed really very calm and composed even though I was pretty muddled in my thinking
  • Stuck to my rules and did not move my stops too tight too quickly
What did I learn today:
  • This might take longer than I thought - and I already thought it was going to take a long time

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 mokodo 
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Today's trades. A story of unrequited love between me and EURUSD, and a loser on EURJPY. That's me done for the month of January and (drum roll please.....) have returned -0.6% of the months starting equity; about 20 trades taken. I risk (on average) 0.3% per trade so this is like being two trades down. Not quite qualifying as a break even month, but not far off.

But a good month for testing things and learning, and oh so slowly and surely making progress in lots of areas - if not yet coming through with profit (I have not forgotten that is the point).

I had fun each day I traded and, whilst the set-ups need tweaking and my skills need sharpening, out there somewhere in the fog is a better place called 'Consistentlyprofitableland'. I've got the tickets, had the jabs, got the visa, now where did I put that map........

Tried again to post up the 'as it happens' video but, again, it's far too long and rambling. I'll keep these as personal education tools. This is the end of session summary, runs to about 7 minutes. I'll try to keep these to under 5min in the future.

Best things I did today:
  • Good analysis on EURUSD trade
  • Calmly exited a non-performing trade - no hope or panic in play
What did I learn today:
  • It hurts watching the bus you missed go, go, go

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 mokodo 
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Not trading today (tend to stay off on NFP days) but watching and mulling things over. I'm posting here to process some thoughts, so if you do read on, expect something close to nonsense.

I have taken to reading Nasim Nicholas Taleb over the last year or so. He has an interesting take on things which chime with my views fairly neatly. (So clearly I am falling into a confirmation bias trap, but I'm fine with that - the books are irreverent and make me laugh; it's worth being in the trap).

I got into his work as a result of getting into probability, which was a result of being totally baffled by trading and my lack of progress. In hindsight I was looking for ways to explain why I was doing so badly. (Hindsight bias - making a narrative out of possibly unconnected past events to explain. We do love a nice neat explanation don't we).

Probability gave me a nice excuse - I was just on a long string of poor trades, nothing to do with be bad trader at all. I'd even coded my strategies (or coded reality as close as I could) and Monte Carlo'ed to see that I was in the tails of the distribution.

My performance did not 'revise to the mean', but my interest in probability stayed.

And it has provided some solace - and helps stop me beating myself up. Here's how.

Which ever way you look at them, whatever assessment or model you use, markets are erratic creatures. Full of surprises. Sometimes extremely big surprises (we're talking 6 sigma big). They change, always.

I spent (gulp, this is embarrassing), hundreds of hours chasing a dream of automated coded strategies. Some very smart ideas (well I thought they were smart then) + no coding knowledge = obsessive behavior. End result, now I can code C# and a bit on MATLAB but have little use for it currently. I know about Monte Carlo testing, RWFA, cluster analysis, blah, blah, blah. What I really know now though is these things are just ways to tell me 'Mike, you know nothing'.

And since I accepted that I enjoy learning the code and the concepts for themselves, not as a bridge to some promised land.

I could see that good automation would get results, but need constant attention, and replicate really what humans do naturally. That is flex and adapt.

I have accepted that (and I'm stealing this from another futures.io (formerly BMT) post - sorry have forgotten the originator): trading is not a 'create and do' type of activity. This is the default human response, especially for men, in many situations where an answer must be found. No, trading for me is becoming a 'read and react' activity. Don't do much at all seems to be a sensible approach.

A string of losers or winners may be down to how I read and react or it may be nothing to do with it. I do get the idea that if I apply a 'method' with concrete rules time and time again, I should get results with a degree of statistical worth. Lucky me, I can perhaps put the results in nice frame and hang it on the wall for all to see. Trading is becoming a process of 'flow and flux'. I pass on signals, I take marginal ones, I tweak and adjust my 'rules'. Yes they are written down and I read them every trading day. But the section headed 'context' now runs to a few pages whilst the section 'entry rules', just a few lines, stays the same.

A good run does not make me a trading rock star, a losing run not a worthless idiot. It does not make me anything because the moment will pass and I will be me again shortly afterward.

Another liberating step for me - making the same point again - is that changing your tools/indicators (just like the honey pot of automation) - is self-defeating. As a wise Indian chief once said "We are all looking at the same herd of buffalo". I've picked my spot to look from and have made it my home.

Removing the need to be right is a long road, but as I slowly plod down it my head is clearer to think about rewards vs risks and protecting my capital and managing my money better. And most important to me to learn, develop, have fun and enjoy the ride.

I'm not trading today but have been at my screen since before the London open. Euro Dollar has just taken off on a 50 pip rip after a double bottom on resistance put in during the late Asian session. Awesome. I have no idea why that occurred, but fantasized about having a 15 pip stop with a limit entry 5 pips inside resistance, bagging a 3R winner in the space of 20 minutes and being 'one and done for the day'.

Ramble over.

Happy trading to us all.

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 Adamus 
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I spent (gulp, this is embarrassing), hundreds of hours chasing a dream of automated coded strategies. Some very smart ideas (well I thought they were smart then) + no coding knowledge = obsessive behavior. End result, now I can code C# and a bit on MATLAB but have little use for it currently. I know about Monte Carlo testing, RWFA, cluster analysis, blah, blah, blah. What I really know now though is these things are just ways to tell me 'Mike, you know nothing'.

And since I accepted that I enjoy learning the code and the concepts for themselves, not as a bridge to some promised land.

I could see that good automation would get results, but need constant attention, and replicate really what humans do naturally. That is flex and adapt.

Don't worry about it, I went from 1991 to 2011 trying to code mechanical systems. In fact I still do, although only as a sideshow. Assuming I can become profitable, I believe I can make more money in the long run with mechanical trading having multiple systems. The mechanical systems will never have the same edge as a human, but having unlimited numbers of them, properly tested and properly balanced for correlation and position sizing, I think that's the ultimate way to go.

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 mokodo 
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@Adamus

Interesting to hear you plans for your 'farm' of mechanical systems. I trade this manually now but it was probably the most promising of the automated strategies I developed. Feel free to play around with it.

Volatility breakout

ADX <12 (and tends to get better the lower it gets, around 9 is good but infrequent) BUT measured on a higher time frame. I tested trades on 15 minutes time series taking the ADX reading off the 30 or 60 minute series. Entry is a break of a 10 period swing high or low on the trading timeframe. A low reading on an internal like MACD seems to separate 'real' low volatility from spiky erratic chop - which often pinged the stop loss.

As I say I am trading this approach manually and very happy with it. All yours (or anyone else's).

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 Adamus 
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@Adamus

Interesting to hear you plans for your 'farm' of mechanical systems. I trade this manually now but it was probably the most promising of the automated strategies I developed. Feel free to play around with it.

Volatility breakout

ADX <12 (and tends to get better the lower it gets, around 9 is good but infrequent) BUT measured on a higher time frame. I tested trades on 15 minutes time series taking the ADX reading off the 30 or 60 minute series. Entry is a break of a 10 period swing high or low on the trading timeframe. A low reading on an internal like MACD seems to separate 'real' low volatility from spiky erratic chop - which often pinged the stop loss.

As I say I am trading this approach manually and very happy with it. All yours (or anyone else's).

Looks interesting and definitely worth crunching some data with. Why the 10 period swing high/low? Maybe I misunderstand your terminology. You mean the highest / lowest price in the last 10 bars?

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 mokodo 
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Looks interesting and definitely worth crunching some data with. Why the 10 period swing high/low? Maybe I misunderstand your terminology. You mean the highest / lowest price in the last 10 bars?

It's just the standard NT swing indicator set to 10. All that really does is track a channel top and bottom. I suspect there may be other ways to code to identify this, I just went with the most straight forward.

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 Adamus 
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Right. Sounds simple enough. It'll have to wait though, NT7 has just mullered my historical database and I need to do a restore.

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 mokodo 
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Learning every day! A nice winner in SIM for a set-up I'm testing, but two losers on the cash account. My GBPUSD trade was just a wrong read of the structure. I said 'retest of down-channel resistance' market said 'lower high before going south'. My EURJPY trade was (just) OK on analysis but poor on execution, could have waited for another price rotation, but rushed it. Stopped out there - and then the trade went to the 1st target (posting the screenshot so I can rub salt in the my wounds!)

I find I currently uncover 'good news' even in losing trades or losing days. The self talk goes something like this "I did everything right apart from X and was a whisker away from a decent winner/decent day, etc". Trouble is I do believe the story I create in hindsight.

I used to be riddled with doubt mainly about whether I had the set-ups and skills to be a CPT (consistently profitable trader -I use the phrase so much, it's quicker to go with a TWA (three word acronym)). Now I am convinced I am close to getting the set-ups and skills. No doubt in my mind there. But my P&L performance is telling a difference story. Am I a) really close to posting some consistent profit and making a 'breakthrough', or b) delusional with unknown psychological factors at work. Or perhaps even worse, c) in a self-perpetuating cycle where the more I believe it's a) the more likely it's b).

I have not experienced this before. Anyone else out there have 'been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt' stories to share?

Best things I did today:
  • Stayed clam and very positive (but possibly delusional)
  • Some good reading of market structure
What did I learn today:
  • Don't skip the discipline, use the tick sheet on my trade cards on every trade
  • If I use tighter stops I could drill down to the 5 minute PA to work on entry timing

know thyself
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 ratfink 
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I have not experienced this before. Anyone else out there have 'been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt' stories to share?

I think you'll find thousands of similar tales on this forum and on every other one that's ever been created. No trader escapes the requisite torture of the mind and all traders think they have/will/can find an edge that will stop it from happening.

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 Adamus 
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Hi Mike,

my guess is that there is a limited number of mistakes you can make and then you start repeating them. Once you recognise that you are repeating them, you can try to work out why and start to do something about it.

Of course I might be wrong. There might be an unlimited number of ways of messing up, each trade creating a new one. Just playing Devil's advocate.

Of course I don't believe that. I believe the former. What do you do if it's the latter? I don't dare think about it.

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 mokodo 
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No trader escapes the requisite torture of the mind and all traders think they have/will/can find an edge that will stop it from happening.


Adamus View Post
my guess is that there is a limited number of mistakes you can make and then you start repeating them. Once you recognise that you are repeating them, you can try to work out why and start to do something about it.

Thanks guys, very helpful and needed input. Reaching an impasse does have it's benefits. Looks like it's a spur to re-read my various journals and other records to dig into things a bit deeper. Having said that I woke this morning with a much clearer head and spotted that I could benefit from clarifying my routines, pre-trade checks, etc. (I've already started doing so).

I see this phase as teething trouble trying to 'slot in' another set-up. I identified my current set-ups are too infrequent to help me reach my goals so have been testing another. This has knocked me a bit out of balance. And I noticed I was really doing this live forward testing 'on the fly' and that attitude has perhaps crept into other areas.

Beware the crafty gremlin of ill-discipline!

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Spent the morning reviewing, simplifying and refining my rules and routines. Well worth the effort. I have decided to forward test my new set-up in SIM only for the remainder of the month. Not ready to take off the stabilisers just yet. Definitely feels like the right move.

Did my morning chart mark-up and watched the days action. No signals for my other set-ups, just a couple I passed on, which was the right call.

Best things I did today:
  • Stayed out the market and got some perspective
What did I learn today:
  • What's the rush?

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Nice finish to my trading week. A couple of winners on my forward test set-up. Missed the big move on the Euro, but good reading of market structure today.

Certainly pleased with my trade management, and not just because of the favorable outcomes. The EURUSD trade only bagged a dozen pips or so (against a stop loss of 20), but I closed out the winner as it was beginning to drift. I have definitely been guilty of holding non-performing trades too long - when they are in the green. I am sure I fall into the trap of hoping they are going to 'suddenly' find some momentum and get moving. So with this trade I applied the same rationale I apply to non-performing trades when they are in the red, i.e. be strict with them. And that felt like the right approach and prevented green turning to red.

The GBPJPY trade caught a news spike and I was very lucky that my 1st target was tagged (60 pips against a stop of 30). It was in the middle of the 3/10 day upper volatility band as a result of being twice the size of the stop, once I saw it was there I just left it, and it just got a fill before price came all the way back.

Even good SIM trades have the effect of boosting confidence, so I will hopefully take that into next week. But the fact these we're SIM trades tells a story - how different would the story have been if these were cash trades?

Best things I did today:
  • Trade management was sound
  • Said I would SIM this set-up and stuck to that, even though my monkey was screaming "you chicken, go with the cash"
What did I learn today:
  • Committing to breakouts is worth it (as long as they are the right kind of breakouts!)
  • Don't confuse skill for luck - and vice versa

know thyself
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 mokodo 
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Oooh, that was a nice day's trading - probably helped by the fact I was SIMing my new set-ups. So much easier without any skin in the game. Anyhows, a 2xR winner and a 2.5xR winner. The GBPUSD trade was a picture perfect 1-leg breakout. The EURJPY trade was a case of 'right place, right time', as it caught a fortuitous news spike. Much needed confidence building day (along with last Thursday) as I attempt to put a stop to a dodgy patch.

And note to self: decent news flow has kept wind in the sails of the forex market today.

Why is the day so much easier when the first trade is a winner? I've been putting some thought to this. I initially thought it was just due to confidence, hey I can do this trading thing, in fact it's easy, etc. etc. And I do think this psychology plays a part, but I also think that getting winner under your belt allows you to just relax without performance anxiety snapping away at your heels. When I trade off a stagnant or losing run I feel that pressure to get a winner and hunt for it and as a result take trades that are honestly not really good candidates at all (and that just exacerbates the situation). Compare that with the feeling of getting a winner (even a itsy bitsy one) and then sitting back and saying 'I have no desire to trade, but if an absolutely A1 set-up screams at me I will take it, but no rushing, no searching, no pressure'.

Next project is to invent a pill that has the early morning winning trade effect.

Best things I did today:
  • Zoned in and stayed there
What did I learn today:
  • Look at my stats and compare days with first trade winners vs first trade losers

know thyself
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 Adamus 
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Why is the day so much easier when the first trade is a winner? I've been putting some thought to this. I initially thought it was just due to confidence, hey I can do this trading thing, in fact it's easy, etc. etc. And I do think this psychology plays a part, but I also think that getting winner under your belt allows you to just relax without performance anxiety snapping away at your heels. When I trade off a stagnant or losing run I feel that pressure to get a winner and hunt for it and as a result take trades that are honestly not really good candidates at all (and that just exacerbates the situation). Compare that with the feeling of getting a winner (even a itsy bitsy one) and then sitting back and saying 'I have no desire to trade, but if an absolutely A1 set-up screams at me I will take it, but no rushing, no searching, no pressure'.

The yourtradingcoach guy Lance Beggs uses a bio-feedback instrument to measure his metabolic state.

As I understand it, when you make a mistake, deep in your brain your anterior cingulate cortex sets off an alarm, normally in the form of somatic changes - raised pulse rate, sweaty palms, adrenalin etc. This changes your immediate decision making approach to something more akin to fight or flight and probably makes your more susceptible to your emotions, possibly masking the little feelings you get about whether the market is currently looking good or not.

I'm still studying the psychology behind decision-making to work out what exactly goes on in the hope of mastering it quicker myself in the crucible of the market.

But so far what I learnt is that it's the anterior cingulate cortex and what it does that you have to bear in mind - we traders have to start feeling ourselves thinking.

The anterior cingulate cortex is basically an expectancy meter. If you expect to make a profit and you do, it releases a little shot of dopamine. If you don't make the expected profit, it will fire off messages all over your cerebral cortex saying "wooooah! something's wrong with my predictions". To give an example at the most primitive level, it is responsible for sea-sickness, because it is expecting rock-solid ground under your feet and on a boat, it doesn't get it, it gets instead a rolling motion and that kicks off a visceral somatic response - nausea! It takes 2 to 3 hours for it to reprogram itself in normal people and then the sea-sickness goes (but you get land-sickness when you step off the boat, if you're unlucky).

What I haven't learnt yet is whether we should seek to suppress our expectations or not. I think we don't want to suppress anything, but if you're interested, I'll let you know when I've read a bit more.

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 mokodo 
Bridgwater, UK
 
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The yourtradingcoach guy Lance Beggs uses a bio-feedback instrument to measure his metabolic state.

As I understand it, when you make a mistake, deep in your brain your anterior cingulate cortex sets off an alarm, normally in the form of somatic changes - raised pulse rate, sweaty palms, adrenalin etc. This changes your immediate decision making approach to something more akin to fight or flight and probably makes your more susceptible to your emotions, possibly masking the little feelings you get about whether the market is currently looking good or not.

I'm still studying the psychology behind decision-making to work out what exactly goes on in the hope of mastering it quicker myself in the crucible of the market.

But so far what I learnt is that it's the anterior cingulate cortex and what it does that you have to bear in mind - we traders have to start feeling ourselves thinking.

The anterior cingulate cortex is basically an expectancy meter. If you expect to make a profit and you do, it releases a little shot of dopamine. If you don't make the expected profit, it will fire off messages all over your cerebral cortex saying "wooooah! something's wrong with my predictions". To give an example at the most primitive level, it is responsible for sea-sickness, because it is expecting rock-solid ground under your feet and on a boat, it doesn't get it, it gets instead a rolling motion and that kicks off a visceral somatic response - nausea! It takes 2 to 3 hours for it to reprogram itself in normal people and then the sea-sickness goes (but you get land-sickness when you step off the boat, if you're unlucky).

What I haven't learnt yet is whether we should seek to suppress our expectations or not. I think we don't want to suppress anything, but if you're interested, I'll let you know when I've read a bit more.

Many many thanks for the input. Understanding what is going 'in there' (my head) is becoming as important a skill as the practical and tactical side of trading. I can go along with this explanation, but as you say the skill is in being objective about the 'feeling' and doing something about it before the inevitable sabotage.

I am working through a great little book by Dr. Steve Peters right now - The Chimp Paradox. There is much in here which can be directly applied to trading. His premise is there are two entities in your head, you (human) and your chimp and it's your (human) responsibility to nurture, manage and tame your chimp. I have stopped exploring other 'psycho' perspectives as I am getting some good results by applying a modified version of this mind model. Sounds like there may be much cross-over in these two approaches.

know thyself
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 Adamus 
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Let us know what to do about the chimp in your difficulty with first trade losers - sounds like a great book although the idea is not new (Plato described the human mind as a charioteer (the rational mind) with two horses that he must seek to control (the emotions))

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 mokodo 
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A scratch and a loser (both SIM). Not the sort of day that suits me. But the full stop-out on the set-up I’m testing held valuable information so plenty of upside to the day and no damage to the trading account. Amen to that.

I’m slowly getting to feel more secure about my little family of set-ups, they sometimes argue, but are looking like they may get along fine. I think, once I can refine the (looking like three new) set-ups and put them with my existing two I will be well on my way to making a goal I set some months back – find more good opportunities, and ones which will complement each other. This brings me one step closer to my overall goal of being able to make a living as a trader.

Slightly larger step is to become formidably excellent with them = practice, practice, practice.

I feel confident to take the new breakout set-up live with a tiny bit of real cash and will mull that over before next week.

Best things I did today:
  • Passed on opportunities with poor risk:reward profile
What did I learn today:
  • Why a test set-up is just not right for me - and tearfully said farewell, we could have been so good together

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 mokodo