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Kevin's TST Combine Journal

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  #201 (permalink)
Pedro40
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Just a quick interruption about the Combine:

The latest funded trader from Mumbai actually reached the profit target by day 13, but had to trade 3 more days to fix the stats, because his winning days % was too low. That just shows how "important" the stats can be. Do we care about profits or stats?

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  #202 (permalink)
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kevinkdog View Post
I guess you could say that, although I really don't have a discretionary style. I do a variety of strategies, whatever tests well.

When I create a strategy, I usually end up wherever it leads me. Usually it ends less frequent trading, and usually overnight holds. The Combine experiment forced me to close at end of day, which I don't do a lot.

But perhaps a more high frequency approach might be better for the Combine. Once they get Ninja working with it, it will be a legitimate option.

It would be interesting to see that. Reading this thread is the first exposure I have had to someone using automated trading -- it's been an eye opener. Thanks for expanding my horizons.

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  #203 (permalink)
 bobwest 
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Pedro40 View Post
Just a quick interruption about the Combine:

The latest funded trader from Mumbai actually reached the profit target by day 13, but had to trade 3 more days to fix the stats, because his winning days % was too low. That just shows how "important" the stats can be. Do we care about profits or stats?

TopstepTrader - Where Talent Meets Opportunity

Yeah, I noticed that too. I guess that some attention to how the stats are working out is called for... although I still think that trading well is the basic way to get there. Mostly...

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  #204 (permalink)
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No Trades Today, Thursday May 2nd.


With all the craziness early in the Euro, this was probably a good day to not have a trade. Nice trend though.


There will be a trade Friday, I can already tell. Problem is it will happen tonight around 7:45 PM. I'll be coaching baseball at that time. So, I am going to enter early, and take my chances on having a worse entry than I should (I'll still have stop and target, though).

Technically, this is violating the system, but I suspect the fills will be close, due to low volume.

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  #205 (permalink)
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Since this might not last until the Friday close, I thought I'd post it now...



I FINALLY am above breakeven. Very pathetic, relative to the goal, but I'm still happy about it. I've stuck to the plan, and stayed disciplined. I am not trading a "Holy Grail" system, but I feel I'm trading what I've got pretty well.

Next stop: $1K profit and then $2K profit. It has got to happen fast, though. Only 2 weeks left in the Combine...



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  #206 (permalink)
 xelaar 
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Perseverance and belief in your edge!

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  #207 (permalink)
iankotze
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Kevin, I have enjoyed this journal very much.
You are a true professional!!!

Thank you very much.
Ian

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  #208 (permalink)
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Only $1900+ to go!






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  #209 (permalink)
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Congrats to making it back. I know you are not going to listen to my advice, but the obvious choice here is to stop and do a rollover and start with a fresh date, so you have 2 more months instead of 3 weeks. The stats are excellent....

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  #210 (permalink)
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That is good advice, and I'd certainly consider it, but I have to trade 20 days minimum, and I'm only at 16 now.

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  #211 (permalink)
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kevinkdog View Post
That is good advice, and I'd certainly consider it, but I have to trade 20 days minimum, and I'm only at 16 now.

Oh I forgot about that, you are right. Now you see, when I said earlier that you should throw in a quick one tick winner on days when you don't have a signal, that was good advice, because beside helping your winning days% stat, it would have counted as a day traded....

But anyway, just make sure you trade 4 more days and roll over...

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  #212 (permalink)
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I thought there were not going to be any entries today, but at 3:30 my 3rd strategy kicked out a buy signal.

Of course, I took it. It went absolutely nowhere - there was very little trading volume - so around the specified exit time, I placed a limit order to exit with a 1 tick profit. It was hit, so my trade shows a winner, but the Tradestation strategy trade shows a 3 tick loser.

That means: A NEW EQUITY HIGH !!!!!!! (by a whopping $7.50)

So, 3 trading days left until I have to make a decision (assuming I am still profitable): Do I quit the Combine and roll it over, and try again? Or, do I try to hit the $2,000 profit level?

I'll make that decision as I get closer, but I'll go with the highest expectancy outcome (just like trading!).


The bigger question, assuming I do rollover, will be "should I go with the same strategies, should I change them, or should I keep the existing ones and just add a 4th strategy?"

If and when I get to that point, I will detail my thought process in this journal, along with my decision. I can tell you that, as of right now, I do not have a suitable strategy to just plug in as #4. Maybe I should work on one just in case...








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  #213 (permalink)
 xelaar 
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I hope it was 3:30 PM EST time, not CST, Combine is not allowed to be traded between 3:10 to 5 PM.

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  #214 (permalink)
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Oh my.. Kevin, trading with TST Combine is prohibited between 3:10 PM and 5 PM, so you opened during the time no trades can be open. I am afraid rollover is not an option anymore

My trade was 3:30 - 4 PM Eastern Time, so I am OK.... the times you mention are Central times.

You scared me there for a minute...

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I did not realize it until now, but with the stats I have so far, for the 3 remaining trading days I have in the combine, I could actually take a quick 1 tick loser trade ($17.50), and still have positive equity. I also believe that I'd meet all the other stats (win %, % winning days, win duration vs loss duration, etc.).

So, I could do the above and qualify for a rollover.

Or I could trade as I normally have been, and see how it all shakes out.


I'm really debating this one.


On one hand, it is totally within the rules, so there is nothing illegal about it. And, the whole idea of this exercise is "to pass the Combine and stay funded." By taking three days of 1 tick losers, I'd be taking the highest probability way to give myself another chance to pass the Combine. Let's face it, at this point I'd have to average over $200 each day for the rest of this Combine to pass - that's just not going to happen. So, my best chance of passing a Combine is by attempting another Combine. My trading up to this point has basically given me that chance.

On the other hand, taking the easy way out feels a little "icky" to me. It is within the rules, but somehow it doesn't feel totally right to me. It reminds me of my 2006 World Cup trading championship. Towards the end of the year, I was in first place. My dilemma was: do I continue trading normally, or should I shut it down and let someone else out-perform to beat me (as opposed to me falling out of 1st place because of my bad trades)? I decided to trade normally, and it worked out OK.

Maybe for me the question becomes: "is it better to take advantage of the rules to rollover to another Combine, or is it better to feel good about how I traded, realizing this could cost me a chance at a rollover?"


If anyone from TopStep cares to weigh in on the issue, I'd love to hear thoughts from the rulemakers. What would they recommend? Would I be treated differently during evaluations if I took the little losers?


For now, I will trade as usual. Honestly, I'm just not comfortable with either choice. Neither alternative feels totally right to me...


Please feel free to weigh in on this.

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  #216 (permalink)
 Big Mike 
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What is your goal?

To pass the combine? Or to learn how your strategies perform in the environment of a combine?

Which is more important?

And if you fail the combine and no rollover, how will that affect your future plans with regards to future combines or learning environments?

Mike

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  #217 (permalink)
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Big Mike View Post
What is your goal?

To pass the combine? Or to learn how your strategies perform in the environment of a combine?

Which is more important?


Mike

Very good questions. Originally the goal was to pass the Combine, and at the same time provide a different way to incubate the strategies I created - that is, to see if the strategies performed as designed. If the strategies perform well (ie in similar manner to their backtest), even if I did not pass the Combine, I might still trade them live.

So, assuming the TST simulator is accurate (it seems much more accurate with limit fills than other sims I have used), I've at least shown that the strategies more or less perform as designed, although the jury is still out on whether I'd trade them with my own money (a second Combine would help in that regard, but it is not necessary).

That means both of my original goals are partially or completely unfulfilled.




Big Mike View Post

And if you fail the combine and no rollover, how will that affect your future plans with regards to future combines or learning environments?

Mike


It sounds silly, given I knew at the outset that I only had about a 50/50 chance of passing the Combine with the strategies I developed, but I actually never really thought I'd fail. Unwarranted overconfidence, I now can see. So, I had no future plans if I failed. Didn't need 'em. That leaves all options open, in a weasely sort of way...

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  #218 (permalink)
 Big Mike 
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Personally, I avoid tweaking strategies in the middle of a test run. So if you consider the entire combine experience to be a test run, I would let it run its course.

But, if you plan to do a second combine, then it would probably be a smart decision to save $300 or whatever by intentionally taking a dive in this combine in order to get the rollover.

Mike

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  #219 (permalink)
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Big Mike View Post
Personally, I avoid tweaking strategies in the middle of a test run. So if you consider the entire combine experience to be a test run, I would let it run its course.

But, if you plan to do a second combine, then it would probably be a smart decision to save $300 or whatever by intentionally taking a dive in this combine in order to get the rollover.

Mike


Thanks for the solid advice. If I do the rollover, one thing I definitely have to consider is adding in the "live trader prep" requirements that Josh mentioned in his TST thread. No sense passing the Combine, and then not being able to pass the Trader Prep.

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  #220 (permalink)
 bobwest 
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My 2 cents is that if you used the quick way to get the rollover (which is both legal and ethical), you wouldn't have the same knowledge or experience that you would have if you just tried to trade well.

Eventually, you'll want to know whether your system trades well... might as well find out now.

(And here's a practical point: I was at 0 P/L today in my Combine, after clawing back from an earlier net loss. It would have been a slight positive except for 1 tick slippage in the last trade up to that point. So I decided to "throw in" a quick profit... I got a tick, but decided to go for 2 after the previous slippage. Naturally, the trade then went south and I waited in vain for it to come back. I ended up negative for the day and that sunk my stats.

The moral could either be, don't count on those "thrown in" profits, or it could be, just take trades when the setup is right. Either way, I learned something. Now I'll trade without worrying about outcomes. And, of course, I'll have to pay for the next Combine.... oh, well.)

Your choice, of course. Whichever way, I hope you keep up with your work on the Combine. Very good job so far.

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  #221 (permalink)
 WarEagle 
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Personally, I think you should take the certain rollover.

I understand the argument that you want to stick to the system all the way through, but in effect you will do that anyway because you are tracking the system in TradeStation. This is not a discretionary trader ignoring his methods to finish out, its just the signals of a mechanical system that will generate those signals regardless of what is executed in the combine account. You have already proven that you will follow the system "no matter what". You also pointed out that the combine is not really long enough to know for certain if the system is "good enough" or not. Now you have a free opportunity to extend the evaluation period. This also buys some time to work on the Trader Prep period issues.

Not only will you get a longer period in a live environment incubator, but you keep alive the opportunity to get funded (assuming this is one of the goals). Not to mention my selfish desire to keep watching...it has been a very interesting and educational process.

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 MBAGearhead 
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If I were you, I'd take a couple 1 tick losers and rollover and save the $300 or whatever the cost is to do another Combine. Then you can report your "luck" (will it be good or bad?) because we all know you will monitor the actual trades you would have taken and calculate, hypothetically, where you would have ended.

Look forward to following your next Combine!!

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 addchild 
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kevinkdog View Post


For now, I will trade as usual. Honestly, I'm just not comfortable with either choice. Neither alternative feels totally right to me...


Please feel free to weigh in on this.


This a pretty clear cut decision,

A 50%(ymmv) chance at a loss of combine value .5(-150), or a 100% chance of no loss 1(0).

This is a trade like any other, and you should be absolutely comfortable making it. Cut the loss and roll the combine.


.
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  #224 (permalink)
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kevinkdog View Post
Thanks for the solid advice. If I do the rollover, one thing I definitely have to consider is adding in the "live trader prep" requirements that Josh mentioned in his TST thread. No sense passing the Combine, and then not being able to pass the Trader Prep.

I really don't put any value on the funded trader part. It seems I am in the minority as everyone else is focused on that.

Instead, I put value in the risk and discipline that the combine instills. Getting funded might be important for some, but I think for most the combine's act as a less expensive and faster route to hone your discipline and risk, without blowing an entire futures account to do so.

However, I have seen some people on the forum just fire away at combine after combine, for example if they fail the first then they are back in another combine within hours. To me that is ridiculous, and if anything proves you have a major flaw in your logic. So you definitely have to respect the process, you can't just treat it like a game that once you get the high score that is all that matters, and you just keep playing over and over until you finally get lucky.

My point is just that, do you really need to be funded? Or does the combine benefit you in other ways that you can use in your existing strategies?

I've rambled so will stop now.

Mike

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  #225 (permalink)
 bobwest 
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Big Mike View Post
I really don't put any value on the funded trader part. It seems I am in the minority as everyone else is focused on that.

Instead, I put value in the risk and discipline that the combine instills. Getting funded might be important for some, but I think for most the combine's act as a less expensive and faster route to hone your discipline and risk, without blowing an entire futures account to do so.

However, I have seen some people on the forum just fire away at combine after combine, for example if they fail the first then they are back in another combine within hours. To me that is ridiculous, and if anything proves you have a major flaw in your logic. So you definitely have to respect the process, you can't just treat it like a game that once you get the high score that is all that matters, and you just keep playing over and over until you finally get lucky.

My point is just that, do you really need to be funded? Or does the combine benefit you in other ways that you can use in your existing strategies?

I've rambled so will stop now.

Mike

I couldn't agree more.

Getting funded would be good, but the pathway to that is becoming a better trader.

If you found a way to get funded without actually being able to trade well, you wouldn't last too long in your funded account. The point of the Combine is to simulate the experience of real money trading without the risk, so that you can do the real thing when the time comes.

The training is much more important than the money. The training is excellent. Money can be found anywhere, really.

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  #226 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for the comments...

@bobwest - I like your statement about trading "without worrying about outcomes." That is an important facet of trading.

@WarEagle - You make some excellent points, especially that with my approach, Tradestation will monitor and track the hypothetical results anyhow.

@MBAGearhead - Thanks for your input, on your first post no less! You are right - I'd report my "luck" regardless.


@addchild - An expectancy calculation. Thanks. You are right, it should not be about emotion, feelings, and all that fuzzy stuff. The numbers say "take the rollover." The numbers don't lie.


@Big Mike - I'm not in the Combine specifically for the funding, although if it happened, that would be great. My motivation was to stretch my development process to the limit - could I do what I normally do development wise, and meet the very tough Combine goals? I thought this Combine would make me a better trader. You know what, I think it did!

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  #227 (permalink)
 Silver Dragon 
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Big Mike View Post
I really don't put any value on the funded trader part. It seems I am in the minority as everyone else is focused on that.

Instead, I put value in the risk and discipline that the combine instills. Getting funded might be important for some, but I think for most the combine's act as a less expensive and faster route to hone your discipline and risk, without blowing an entire futures account to do so.

Mike

@Big Mike

I was in it for the live account without a doubt. That was my #1 goal. Now I am in it to learn how to trade. I have gained wealth of knowledge and experience on risk, discipline and money management. I working to get funded so I can work with Bob and Hoag. Both of the them work with the funded traders. I want to learn how to take it to the next level.

At the same time if I fail to get funded I now have have better skills to go back to my live account. Honestly, I think would be less pressure to trade my own account with what I have learned than in the combine I am in now. I would still trade the combine every so often to keep my trading in check while I keep trying to get funded. I think the combine is a great tool for any trader to gain perspective on how they are trading and where they can improve on risk, discipline and money management.

Robert

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  #228 (permalink)
Pedro40
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My advice is pretty obvious, do the rollover. (and you can take breakeven trades too, they won't mess with your stats, but count as traded day, and costs only $5)

The logic is pretty simple: You already have 17 days of testing your system (the result is obviously breakeven) so 3 extra days won't really add much to it, but you might lose $200. If you roll over you can add another 20 days of testing to it, so that is more valuable than this extra 3 days...

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Pedro40 View Post
My advice is pretty obvious, do the rollover. (and you can take breakeven trades too, they won't mess with your stats, but count as traded day, and costs only $5)

The logic is pretty simple: You already have 17 days of testing your system (the result is obviously breakeven) so 3 extra days won't really add much to it, but you might lose $200. If you roll over you can add another 20 days of testing to it, so that is more valuable than this extra 3 days...

If I have a breakeven trade, won't it then count as a negative day with commission? Or, do they not count commission as part of overall daily P/L (which seems odd)?

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Pedro40
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kevinkdog View Post
If I have a breakeven trade, won't it then count as a negative day with commission? Or, do they not count commission as part of overall daily P/L (which seems odd)?

You are right, I forgot about that, it will be a -5$ losing day.... But it is the same as taking 1 tick hit, but with less cost.... You have the winning % at 70 nicely built up so, it won't go down to below 50....

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You are right, I forgot about that, it will be a -5$ losing day.... But it is the same as taking 1 tick hit, but with less cost.... You have the winning % at 70 nicely built up so, it won't go down to below 50....

I think my approach would be immediate exit after entry, so I'd give up a tick and have an overall $17.50 loss. 3 of those would be $52.50, leaving me around $27 profit.

I don't think I can afford to attempt a breakeven trade, since if it goes another tick against me, I am in trouble.

In any event, I am waiting on TST to clarify a couple of questions I have, before I proceed.

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Pedro40
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I am waiting on TST to clarify a couple of questions I have, before I proceed.

Then you have to post the dilemma in the TST AMA thread, because you can't expect them to read every Combine Journal.... (and they answer it quicker)

Or email them if you want a quick answer, but I don't think they care either way. You can use the Combine for at least 4 different things:

1. Trying to get funded.
2. Practicing trading general.
3. Testing a particular strategy.
4. To establish some sort of trading record.
etc,etc

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No strategy trades today, but I took one $5 quick loser...







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 creekboy 
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well you now see ,it looks like you have a well balanced system ,now you can start looking back over time to see how to unbalance it for winners both ways ,i find this very interesting

:when you cheat -you only cheat yourself
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well you now see ,it looks like you have a well balanced system ,now you can start looking back over time to see how to unbalance it for winners both ways ,i find this very interesting

Can you explain a bit? Not sure what "unbalance" means...

THANKS

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karoshiman
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Hi Kevin,

Very interesting thread you have here!

One question regarding the attachment above: Isn't it strange that the actual/perfect results are ALL THE TIME very close to the "lower 25%" band?

I am familiar with Monte Carlo simulations, but have used them only for corporate planning purposes and not for trading (I'm a discretionary trader anyway). Not sure how exactly you applied it here (which are the input variables with which data and distributions applied?), but shouldn't the trading results be more evenly distributed between the different top/lower 10%/25% bands?

Without further information (for me) it looks like the model is not a good approximation of reality. Or, maybe I misunderstand something here completely...

Thanks in advance!

k

PS: ... and by the way, do the rollover... with the same arguments the others gave, who voted for the rollover.

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Hi Kevin,

Very interesting thread you have here!

One question regarding the attachment above: Isn't it strange that the actual/perfect results are ALL THE TIME very close to the "lower 25%" band?

I am familiar with Monte Carlo simulations, but have used them only for corporate planning purposes and not for trading (I'm a discretionary trader anyway). Not sure how exactly you applied it here (which are the input variables with which data and distributions applied?), but shouldn't the trading results be more evenly distributed between the different top/lower 10%/25% bands?

Without further information (for me) it looks like the model is not a good approximation of reality. Or, maybe I misunderstand something here completely...

Thanks in advance!

k

PS: ... and by the way, do the rollover... with the same arguments the others gave, who voted for the rollover.

The thick lines are based on historical walkforward backtests. The average profit per day and the standard deviation are all you need to create the thick line curves. Plotted with that are the actual results. Since the actual results are around the 25% line, it tells me 2 things:

1) The strategy, during the combine, has underperformed its historical backtest

2) The strategy, since it is within the 10 and 90% lines, is within expectations (ie, the strategy does not appear to be broken).


The problem is, with so little Combine data, it is tough to draw any long term conclusions yet.

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 creekboy 
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Can you explain a bit? Not sure what "unbalance" means...

THANKS

if you used a bollinger with your system ,just the center line ,not outsiders, it may help you see where you are balanced and unbalanced , use it and back test your entries and see how it fairs with it ,

:when you cheat -you only cheat yourself
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No strategy generated entries today. This system (set of 3 unique strategies) is definitely missing a lot of nice moving days lately.



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karoshiman
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The thick lines are based on historical walkforward backtests. The average profit per day and the standard deviation are all you need to create the thick line curves. Plotted with that are the actual results. Since the actual results are around the 25% line, it tells me 2 things:

1) The strategy, during the combine, has underperformed its historical backtest

2) The strategy, since it is within the 10 and 90% lines, is within expectations (ie, the strategy does not appear to be broken).


The problem is, with so little Combine data, it is tough to draw any long term conclusions yet.


Thank you! I think, I understand now.

When I said, "it looks like the model is not a good approximation of reality" I meant the Monte Carlo model and not the trading systems, btw. But now I understand (I hope), how the thick lines have been created and, hence, how they have to be interpreted correctly.

Yes, 1 combine (or even 2 or 3!) are not enough to draw any conclusions.

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Alright, this Combine is done. I didn't lose, but I did not win either.

A worthwhile experience, overall.


Assuming I get the go ahead for a rollover, I will begin a new Combine sometime in early June (after some family vacationing).

I'll still be posting in the meantime, since there are some things I want to discuss before the next Combine.

Thank you to everyone who have followed this thread, and cheered me on... I do appreciate it!



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iankotze
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I am very impressed with the professionalism you have shown during this combine, wow, very inspirational stuff. Looking forward to your next one, hope you find the right trading program to make it happen in round two.

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I am very impressed with the professionalism you have shown during this combine, wow, very inspirational stuff. Looking forward to your next one, hope you find the right trading program to make it happen in round two.


Thanks! I am glad I was trading a rigid approach. With any kind of discretionary approach, it would have been really hard to stay on track, especially with putting everything out there in a public journal.

I am definitely continuing the test and evaluation of my existing 3 strategies, and I will be trading them as part of the next Combine.

The question will be: do I go to the next dance with the girl I have been dating, or should I bring her, along with another girl, instead?

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iankotze
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Kevin, my advise would be not to trade more than one market. I am no fan of currencies and cant offer you any advise on what to trade but trust me when I say, STICK TO ONE MARKET for this experiment. I have had a few combines when I make full target and everything in one product and miss the pot in another and that counts as a fail.

All the best to you,
Ian

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Thanks for the advice Ian. That is definitely my intent - to stick to the Euro, and that only. The "other girl" might be an additional strategy to trade the Euro. Too many days of no trading. I barely hit the minimum 20 trading days in 60 calendar days requirement.

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OK, great!!!!!

I have been notified that I have officially qualified for a rollover.

So, I see 2 issues that need resolution before my next Combine:

1. I knew going into the Combine that I only had a 48% chance of hitting the profit target. That was as good as I could develop, given I only had 3 weeks to do so. So, I either need to A. trade a different system altogether, B. add more markets, or C. add another strategy to trade the Euro. I am strongly leaning toward option C., since that allows me to still trade the original 3 strategies (which I still might want to trade with real money), and also gives me a better chance of passing the Combine. It is probably the quickest option.

2. Most or all Combine "passers" have to go to Live Trader Preparation, before being Fully Funded. I will have a discussion with TST on the exact requirements for the LTP, as I suspect they are different for each trader.

My problem is that my Combine system may not work well in LTP, depending on the requirements. Therefore, I'd like to have the exact same system A. pass the Combine, B. pass the Live Trader Prep, C. trade a fully funded account and D. trade with my own money. Is this possible? I will find out!


Based on journals of others here, one thing I will not do is jump into the next Combine right away. I am thinking that I will start on June 17th, which gives me a month to sort all this out. I might even wait longer. As wine maker Paul Masson used to say "we will sell no wine, until it is time."

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 xelaar 
prague, czech republic
 
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Kevin,
Could I suggest to explore the option of trading more session-based market rather than decentralized currency market such as fiber? Most of action happens in the first part of London sessions when most european news are due and on top of that this market has a lot of inactive days with tight ranges thus no signals for your systems.

Just IMHO
Alex

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Kevin,
Could I suggest to explore the option of trading more session-based market rather than decentralized currency market such as fiber? Most of action happens in the first part of London sessions when most european news are due and on top of that this market has a lot of inactive days with tight ranges thus no signals for your systems.

Just IMHO
Alex

Good idea, to do something different than currencies, but the fibers are not permitted:
Trading Futures: FX, Oil, E-mini S&P 500 | TopstepTrader

Right now, my plan is to sneak another strategy in the Euro (one that doesn't impact too heavily the other strategies, since there will be some overlap). If that doesn't work, I will take your good advice about another market. I just don't know which one yet.

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 xelaar 
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Good idea, to do something different than currencies, but the fibers are not permitted:
Trading Futures: FX, Oil, E-mini S&P 500 | TopstepTrader

Right now, my plan is to sneak another strategy in the Euro (one that doesn't impact too heavily the other strategies, since there will be some overlap). If that doesn't work, I will take your good advice about another market. I just don't know which one yet.

By fiber I mean EURUSD, or 6E, it's a forex trader slang, sorry for that!

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By fiber I mean EURUSD, or 6E, it's a forex trader slang, sorry for that!

Never heard that before! Thanks for clarifying.

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 xelaar 
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Given your mean-reverting strategy maybe something reasonably volatile with similar characteristics as euro but more session-based in its activity will be better. Maybe NQ or YM? Too bad TF is not permitted, nor DAX. If you take a small combine again, 5 dollars per tick might give extra flexibility to risk management, as compared to 12.5 dollars per tick in euro..

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Given your mean-reverting strategy maybe something reasonably volatile with similar characteristics as euro but more session-based in its activity will be better. Maybe NQ or YM? Too bad TF is not permitted, nor DAX. If you take a small combine again, 5 dollars per tick might give extra flexibility to risk management, as compared to 12.5 dollars per tick in euro..

That's spooky...we trade very differently, yet we think alike. I was thinking about YM, actually, if I can;t get the Euro to work...

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Improving My Performance, and Making Changes, For The Next Combine


After breaking even in the first Combine, I have decided that I need some enhancement to my original strategies.

Why?

Reason #1:

If you go back to the thread beginning, you'll see I figured that I had less than a 50% chance of passing the Combine (I would be low on Net Profit, most likely). So, I need to enhance/modify/eliminate/add to my existing strategies to give myself a better chance to pass. I have more time to create a strategy, which I did not have before, so I should be able to.


Reason #2:

Since the Live Trader Prep rules might be different than the Combine rules, I want to, if possible, trade the same systems for all phases. There is no sense in me passing the Combine with my strategies, only to fail the Live Trader Prep due to some different rules (like trailing stops, or max consecutive losses, etc.)


Sometime next week, I plan on hopefully talking to John Hoagland, Director of Scouting for TST, about the Live Trader Prep. So, here is my plan:


1. Talk to TST about Live Trader Prep rules

2. Apply LTP rules to my existing strategies

3. Determine whether or not my existing strategies should stay or go

4. Add other strategies as needed to pass both Combine and LTP


The goal for next week will be to finish the first 3 steps, and start working on the 4th one.


Overall goal is to start Combine #2 on June 14 or 17.

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 COTtrader 
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@kevinkdog
The YM naturally correlates with the ES. I have often traded the YM OPPOSITE the direction of my ES trades. The YM nicely consolidates and holds levels clearly seen while the ES jutters around before it determines its direction. When I see this and take an ES BUY trade for example, I will place a YM SELL trade 1-2 ticks below its consolidation area to "hedge" my ES position, in case I was wrong in the ES trade.

Does the combine allow you to trade that way--I should think it would or should. After all, that is a method of trading. By the way, why doesn't TopStep allow the TF to be traded in a Combine?

Ken "COTtrader"


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That's spooky...we trade very differently, yet we think alike. I was thinking about YM, actually, if I can;t get the Euro to work...


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COTtrader View Post
@kevinkdog
The YM naturally correlates with the ES. I have often traded the YM OPPOSITE the direction of my ES trades. The YM nicely consolidates and holds levels clearly seen while the ES jutters around before it determines its direction. When I see this and take an ES BUY trade for example, I will place a YM SELL trade 1-2 ticks below its consolidation area to "hedge" my ES position, in case I was wrong in the ES trade.

Does the combine allow you to trade that way--I should think it would or should. After all, that is a method of trading. By the way, why doesn't TopStep allow the TF to be traded in a Combine?

Ken "COTtrader"

I'm sure that method is acceptable. My guess with TF is with data fees and ICE. ICE probably wanted TST to pay real time data fees. Note no ICE product is permissible.

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If I could summarize my Combine experience, and what I learned, in one word, what do you think it would be?


Come to the TopStep webinar I am presenting on Friday at 1 PM EDT, and find out.

I guarantee that if you adhere to this one word, your trading will improve, probably dramatically. I think it is the key between winning and losing traders...

Details on the webinar to follow...

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 treydog999 
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If I could summarize my Combine experience, and what I learned, in one word, what do you think it would be?


Come to the TopStep webinar I am presenting on Friday at 1 PM EDT, and find out.

I guarantee that if you adhere to this one word, your trading will improve, probably dramatically. I think it is the key between winning and losing traders...

Details on the webinar to follow...

wow that is a heck of a tagline. going to have to check it out now

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 xelaar 
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Awesome stuff. Will be in.

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 gulabv 
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Is there a link to your webinar ?

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Is there a link to your webinar ?


I will post info when I get it from TopStepTrader. The webinar will be in their Squawk Radio room.

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 PandaWarrior 
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You should submit a custom combine eliminating all performance stats and focus only on profit objective an max loss.

After all, this is what really matters in the end and for those with discipline, this is the right way to go. That way you are not trading to some arbitrary stats. This would have eliminated the last couple of days worth of conversation as well. It cost $50 extra but worth it.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, Leonardo da Vinci


Most people chose unhappiness over uncertainty, Tim Ferris
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PandaWarrior View Post
You should submit a custom combine eliminating all performance stats and focus only on profit objective an max loss.

After all, this is what really matters in the end and for those with discipline, this is the right way to go. That way you are not trading to some arbitrary stats. This would have eliminated the last couple of days worth of conversation as well. It cost $50 extra but worth it.

That is a neat idea. Has anyone been approved to do a Combine with just those 2 parameters?

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 WarEagle 
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If I could summarize my Combine experience, and what I learned, in one word, what do you think it would be?

I think it is the key between winning and losing traders...

Jumping the gun here but I would say "consistency".

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Jumping the gun here but I would say "consistency".

That is a good answer, as I don;t think you can be consistent without the word I am thinking of...

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 Big Mike 
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My guess or preview of what you will say:

You learned/reminded of the fact that you need to be patient and "hold the course", meaning that once you define a way to measure yourself, you need to then actually do it. It doesn't mean blindly trade a system cash that is losing money, but it does mean you set up a test environment and certain conditions to meet before you started trading it, and then once it goes "live" (in whatever environment) then you need to follow through with that experiment.

If you start altering the experiment then the results are invalidated and more or less worthless.

Mike

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My guess or preview of what you will say:

You learned/reminded of the fact that you need to be patient and "hold the course", meaning that once you define a way to measure yourself, you need to then actually do it. It doesn't mean blindly trade a system cash that is losing money, but it does mean you set up a test environment and certain conditions to meet before you started trading it, and then once it goes "live" (in whatever environment) then you need to follow through with that experiment.

If you start altering the experiment then the results are invalidated and more or less worthless.

Mike


Right On! I will be discussing exactly what you said... here are a couple of slides that describe it...





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 Big Mike 
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I look forward to your follow-up combine

I also look forward to what you've come up with regarding the "challenge" I issued regarding your next futures.io (formerly BMT) webinar in July.



Mike

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kevinkdog View Post
That is a neat idea. Has anyone been approved to do a Combine with just those 2 parameters?

Whenever you get a pass at something, you have to do something else harder, when you are doing a custom Combine. So I would say your profit target would go up significantly if they approve that plan. Like 50+% more.

I saw one funded trader whose profit target was less than the usual Combine and I couldn't figure out why he got that lowered. Maybe because he was trading multiple instruments....

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Whenever you get a pass at something, you have to do something else harder, when you are doing a custom Combine. So I would say your profit target would go up significantly if they approve that plan. Like 50+% more.

I saw one funded trader whose profit target was less than the usual Combine and I couldn't figure out why he got that lowered. Maybe because he was trading multiple instruments....


No Free lunch!

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 PandaWarrior 
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Pedro40 View Post
Whenever you get a pass at something, you have to do something else harder, when you are doing a custom Combine. So I would say your profit target would go up significantly if they approve that plan. Like 50+% more.

I saw one funded trader whose profit target was less than the usual Combine and I couldn't figure out why he got that lowered. Maybe because he was trading multiple instruments....

Yes the profit objective is increased. It's usually one and a half times the max draw down. So for a $2000 draw down, your profit target is $3500.

This makes sense from an R:R standpoint. Make $3500 before you lose $2000.

Another reason this is an outstanding idea is it more closely resembles the Live Trader Prep that follows a normal combine.

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You’re invited to attend an interactive webinar I’ll be conducting on TopstepTrader’s Squawk Radio tomorrow (Friday the 17th) at 12 Noon Central (1 PM Eastern) about "Lessons Learned From Trading in a Combine."


During the webinar, I'll be briefly reviewing my performance in my first ever Combine, and I'll then be sharing with you what I learned about trading in a Combine. Hopefully you'll pick up some tips to make you a better trader!


TopstepTrader’s Squawk Radio will be open to guests at 7:15 AM CST - so be sure to invite friends and colleagues. To access Squawk Radio:



Follow this link: TST Trading Floor

Choose the “pit” of the product you trade

Check the “Log in as guest” box

Enter a display name and click Login

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 gulabv 
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Is there a specific pit we should choose to listen to your webinar?

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Is there a specific pit we should choose to listen to your webinar?

I do not think it matters. There should be "direction signs" wherever you are, telling you what to do.


The Lounge might be the best place. I am not sure.

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Yesterday I talked to the Director of Scouting at TST regarding my rollover Combine. My fear was that any system I use that might pass the Combine might not pass the Live Trader Prep that TST requires of most traders.

After our discussion, I am fairly confident that any mechanical approach I use that passes the Combine should also pass the LTP.

Based on that, I am going to get ready for the next Combine, which I will likely start in mid June (I have some other commitments before then).

If you recall, with the 3 strategies I used on the Euro, my biggest potential issues/problems were:

A. Expected profit was not enough to confidently pass Combine.

B. Daily win percentage might not be enough to pass Combine.

C. I only had a few weeks to develop the strategies for the Combine, so I went with the best I could do in short time.



My current plan, given I have a few weeks before the next Combine:

1. For Combine #2, continue trading the 3 strategies I used in Combine #1.

2. Add a fourth strategy to the mix, still trading the Euro. Ideally, it will not interfere with any of the existing strategies. This might be very difficult to do, though.

3. If #2 proves impossible or impractical, I will look to add another market, possibly Gold or Oil.

4. If I find a great Euro strategy that interferes with one of my original strategies, I may swap them.


I'll keep everyone informed on my progress, and I'll also update the status of original strategies every so often.

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Thanks to everyone who attended today's TST webinar. There were some great questions from the audience!

The one word to success in the Combine (and trading in general):


DISCIPLINE

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 xelaar 
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Excellent session, Kevin! Looking forward to your next appearance!

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Excellent session, Kevin! Looking forward to your next appearance!

Thanks, but I wish you were able to say "excellent Combine" instead... I can definitely say that about your Combine, though!!

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 gulabv 
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Yes excellent webinar thanks for sharing Kevin!
I like the 5 steps in the star around discipline!!

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 xelaar 
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kevinkdog View Post
Thanks, but I wish you were able to say "excellent Combine" instead... I can definitely say that about your Combine, though!!

I think you have shown us an excellent way how to turn an idea into a tradeable system, and I am sure passing a Combine will be just a matter of fine tuning. I am sure you never go live trading after just a week or two since the inception of the system. Thank you!

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 Daytrader999 
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kevinkdog View Post
Thanks to everyone who attended today's TST webinar. There were some great questions from the audience!

The one word to success in the Combine (and trading in general):


DISCIPLINE

Great topics and very well presented, I really enjoyed your presentation as well as the whole audience IMO.

Discipline pretty much is one of the major keys for successfully passing a Combine and staying as a funded trader.

And I really like the 'five steps around discipline' slide as well.

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Great topics and very well presented, I really enjoyed your presentation as well as the whole audience IMO.

Discipline pretty much is one of the major keys for successfully passing a Combine and staying as a funded trader.

And I really like the 'five steps around discipline' slide as well.

Here is that slide. Each of the 5 points is either critical to achieving discipline, or essential to getting and maintaining discipline.

I think the Combine is a great high pressure environment to see if you have discipline.



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vercetti
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Hi Kevin,

When will the recorded webinar be available?

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 Daytrader999 
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kevinkdog View Post
Here is that slide. Each of the 5 points is either critical to achieving discipline, or essential to getting and maintaining discipline.

I think the Combine is a great high pressure environment to see if you have discipline.

Thanks Kevin, it looks soooo easy, but sometimes it's so hard to follow...

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Hi Kevin,

When will the recorded webinar be available?

You'd have to ask the TopStep people for quick answer. Once they e-mail me a link to the YouTube video, I will post it.

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 omni72 
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Today was the day I had been long expecting. Of course, it happened after the Combine, but since I am still tracking the 3 strategies (as I may allocate my own money to them), I am still recording the ongoing performance.

A day like today is not expected all that often, and that brings up the major weak point of this particular strategy - is it worth trading a strategy that just sort of meanders around for a while, and once in a while gets an outsize profit? I know most people would not tolerate such a strategy. Admittedly it is hard to trade when you have to wait a long time between "pay" days.

The last two profitable days have put this strategy very close to the expected profit (50% point).

I am still working on an additional strategy for EC, and I hope to have it ready for the next Combine. Ideally, strategy #4 would be a trend following strategy during the day session, to complement the existing mean reverting strategy I already use. I like trend following a lot more than mean reverting, too.

Comments are welcome, and appreciated...





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Albnd
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Just a simple question: what would you do if today's result was a -10%, instead of a +10%?

(my 2c: is an outlier reliable in order to evaluate a strategy?)

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Albnd View Post
Just a simple question: what would you do if today's result was a -10%, instead of a +10%?

(my 2c: is an outlier reliable in order to evaluate a strategy?)


Good question! Today was +$1700 profit, and the max loss I could ever get in a day would be around $450. I could never have as bad of a day as today was good, unless there was unprecedented slippage.

Today is clearly an outlier, performance wise, based on the last 27 trading days (since the start of the Combine). But, it is not as much of an outlier when I look at the whole history of this system.

Based on history, there was a 3% chance that on any given day a profit greater than $1000 would be achieved.

This means, on average, an outlier profit like this will occur once every 30 trading days or so. In this case, it happened to occur on day 27. But, the next one might appear tomorrow, or might not appear for 6 months. Who knows?!? That to me is the terrible part of this strategy - waiting for the big score, which may never come. Or it may eventually come, but is very unpredictable.

But, you are right that it is wrong to draw any conclusions about the strategy long term, just from today. That is why I typically wait 3-6 months (probably closer to 6 for this infrequent strategy) to see if it performs the same as walkforward testing.

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kevinkdog View Post
Today was the day I had been long expecting. Of course, it happened after the Combine, but since I am still tracking the 3 strategies (as I may allocate my own money to them), I am still recording the ongoing performance.

A day like today is not expected all that often, and that brings up the major weak point of this particular strategy - is it worth trading a strategy that just sort of meanders around for a while, and once in a while gets an outsize profit? I know most people would not tolerate such a strategy. Admittedly it is hard to trade when you have to wait a long time between "pay" days.

The last two profitable days have put this strategy very close to the expected profit (50% point).

I am still working on an additional strategy for EC, and I hope to have it ready for the next Combine. Ideally, strategy #4 would be a trend following strategy during the day session, to complement the existing mean reverting strategy I already use. I like trend following a lot more than mean reverting, too.

Comments are welcome, and appreciated...


That's exactly the problem with these programs... you might have to choose strategies which increase the likelihood of passing the combine (e.g. based on frequency of trades, average result per trade, etc.), but these strategies might not be the best to use for your own live trading. Hence, these programs should really be seen only as a training tool for a certain period of time (not referring to you, @kevinkdog, but less experienced traders).

@kevinkdog: You should try to add strategies with a higher trade frequency (smaller "home runs" more often, compared to the one with the $1700 profit today).

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That's exactly the problem with these programs... you might have to choose strategies which increase the likelihood of passing the combine (e.g. based on frequency of trades, average result per trade, etc.), but these strategies might not be the best to use for your own live trading. Hence, these programs should really be seen only as a training tool for a certain period of time (not referring to you, @kevinkdog, but less experienced traders).

@kevinkdog: You should try to add strategies with a higher trade frequency (smaller "home runs" more often, compared to the one with the $1700 profit today).

You are right. Relying on big trades is not a good way to pass a Combine...

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 Big Mike 
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kevinkdog View Post
You are right. Relying on big trades is not a good way to pass a Combine...

Over the years I've heard traders whom I respect very much say it both ways. One will say that there shouldn't be homeruns, the other should say that the minority of trades will account for majority of profit.

I prefer the approach of no home runs but just consistent base hits. When I see home runs, I immediately start to think curve fit and I am not comfortable with it.

There is a good NT optimizer in this thread:


It examines trades and runs a sort of monte carlo simulation looking for trades that fall outside the std deviation, it can be quite useful for finding what is "likely" vs "unlikely".

Mike

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Over the years I've heard traders whom I respect very much say it both ways. One will say that there shouldn't be homeruns, the other should say that the minority of trades will account for majority of profit.

I prefer the approach of no home runs but just consistent base hits. When I see home runs, I immediately start to think curve fit and I am not comfortable with it.

There is a good NT optimizer in this thread:


It examines trades and runs a sort of monte carlo simulation looking for trades that fall outside the std deviation, it can be quite useful for finding what is "likely" vs "unlikely".

Mike


I had never considered the curve fit aspect to it, and that is a good point to consider.

The other bad thing about these home run trades is that the standard deviation of trade results is higher, which 1) makes it harder to position size and 2) can be emotionally draining, waiting for the big trade, and 3) makes the equity curve much more variable.

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 Trovatore 
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kevinkdog View Post
The other bad thing about these home run trades is that the standard deviation of trade results is higher, which 1) makes it harder to position size and 2) can be emotionally draining, waiting for the big trade, and 3) makes the equity curve much more variable.

I would add one more point here, sort of the flip side of waiting for the big trade. Your strategy should preferably allow you to take a week off without the fear that the price of your holiday might be missing a significant portion of your planned annual profit. In an ideal case, you 'know' that you give up 2% of your annual profit potential by spending a week away from trading. In the worst case, the success of your trading year depends on a handful of big winners, and you will not have seen any of them in the two months before your planned vacation. How will you convince yourself to take your planned week off and how will you avoid not praying constantly for the bad streak to continue while you're away?

The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
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 Porsche 
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Hi Kevin,

The "End of Day Exit" seems to be the main exit for system 2 & 3. Do you have some statistics on how many exits were "End of Day Exit"?

Of course this is a given exit due to the Combine rules, but you might consider a re-entry, if the exit was a "End of Day Exit" and the original entry is still valid. This would also increase the number of trades.

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Porsche View Post
Hi Kevin,

The "End of Day Exit" seems to be the main exit for system 2 & 3. Do you have some statistics on how many exits were "End of Day Exit"?

Of course this is a given exit due to the Combine rules, but you might consider a re-entry, if the exit was a "End of Day Exit" and the original entry is still valid. This would also increase the number of trades.

I agree most of the exits are "end of day," which actually is the "end of the session" on that particular chart. I found that was the way to maximize profit. I will have to look at re-entry idea. THANKS!

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I'm still working on a 4th strategy to add to the mix, in prep for the next Combine.

Here's where the 3 current strategies stand... a new equity high...



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Finally, after 2.3 months, the package of 3 strategies is starting to perform near expectations.

BUT:

1. Most of the profit came in one day, mainly from one big trade

2. A lot of the trading days were due to overnight trades, which may be disallowed in the Live Trader Prep (should I ever happen to get that far).


The search continues for 1 more strategy. I have one decent one I am still evaluating that maybe, just maybe, might be good enough.

I also have a 50/50 strategy - half mechanical, half discretionary, that I just started trading with real money last week. A couple of days ago, a 2 lot EC trade yielded $1,700+. I may use that, but I don;t have a lot of statistics on its history.


Still aiming for mid/late June Combine.







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 garyboy275 
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I think whether its home runs or singles isn't the problem. Most of the combines just reflect majority of the traders-going broke while going for homeruns. Or failing even after hitting homeruns ( with DLL or max drawdown). Risk is paramount thats why they have all the parameters-45% winning rate, DLL, Max drawdown, and weekly losslimits.

Some of their parameters dont make sense eg. like the win %--how is that relevant on its own ? Even a low win % with a very high Avg Win$/Avg L$ ratio would be good strategy to trade live.

Hitting homeruns or singles is irrelvant-trading good involves both holding for max profits while controlling your risk. Singles help the account and confidence grow and home runs buy the dreams. When you take the trade you have already taken the maximum risk-no matter whether the trade works or not. So why not try to take the max profit since its already on. Ever seen that on the best trades you enter and immediately or soon thereafter it moves away and stays away. I personally have regretted many of those getting out too early and now I keep an eye out for just this very fact.

On the Combine itself redflags would be big losses even if no DLL or drawdown limit wasnt hit. Thats a bomb waiting to burst. Its a probability game not a slug fest. Thats why MP's frustration with people who pass the combine cant produce and they either have the discipline to pass the combine and then go back to their merry ways when they go live and end up in combine again or become too conservative not producing much. I read it else where that they dont even have a high 5 figure guys out of all the live traders. Imagine that ? How easy is it to hit 1k in CL even trading 2 lots. Some of these guys are trading 5-15 lots. I can only speculate what happens when they go live. IF they were hitting singles, then you cant hit a reverse homerun when you take a loss. Cant eat like a bird and poop like an elephant. That's where the homeruns come into help.

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I was away for a week at Disneyworld, so I was not able to update the performance of my 3 strategies until now.

Right now, things are going better than expected. Long term, performance should revert to the average line. So, I consider the current performance a "hot streak" that will not last.

For the Combine, I'm shooting for a June 25 start.

I probably will trade these 3 strategies, with no changes, along with a new EC strategy. This new strat is a hybrid - mostly mechanical, but some discretion.


Stay Tuned!




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OK, it looks like I am set for my next Combine, starting next week. I am going to do the $150K, 20 Day Combine this time, since getting funded at $30K (assuming I pass) just would not make sense for me.

I am going to be trading 4-5 unique strategies. From this point forward, I'll probably refer to them as my "Combine System," and the individual strategies I'll call "Combine Strategy #X." So, the 4-5 strategies make up the whole Combine System. Hopefully that will make the journal easier to follow.


Here are short descriptions of each strategy:

Strategy #1 - trades overnight. High win %, small wins.

Strategy #2 - trades day session. Goes for big wins, holds profitable trades until 3 PM ET. Primary money maker.

Strategy #3 - trades late day. High win %. Does not trade frequently.


Theses first 3 strategies are the exact same ones I traded in Combine #1. They really started to do well after the Combine was over (isn't that always the case?). I do not trade these with real money yet, but I may start in Fall (these are currently in "incubation.")

Strategy #4 - a brand new strategy that I have traded with real money for a few weeks. It is mainly mechanical, with some discretion involved (for example, when does one leg end, and another start?). I actually trade the same approach on EC, ES GC, and CL. This strategy will just trade EC.

Strategy #5 - depending how things go, I may need to add another strategy (if strats 1-4 don't trade enough days, or if they do not give enough profit). If that happens, I may trade strat #4 with CL or GC. I'd prefer to avoid this, since then I have to worry about satisfying more metrics for the additional instrument.


For position sizing, I am going to employ an intraday adaptive position sizing technique. That is a fancy way of saying I will be doing some things to maximize the profit, while still respecting the Daily Loss Limit and Max Drawdown rules. For example, I'll start each day with a base of 6 contracts. That will keep me out of harm's way with the Daily Loss Limit. Let's say my overnight trade is a winner. In that case, trades the rest of the day will be with 6-10 contracts, depending on the stop loss for those trades. In all cases, I will still respect the DLL.

My goals for this Combine:

1. Pass the Combine, or at least avoid a spectacular failure!

2. Continue test drive "incubation" of strategies 1-3, to see if I should allocate real money to them

3. Hopefully pass along some words of advice to newer traders



Here is the performance chart I will be using. I expect to be around the navy blue line, but of course there will be a lot of variation in my actual equity curve.






I plan on posting updates every day I trade, and maybe some posts in between to discuss a trading related topic.


Please feel free to post questions, comments, criticisms, etc.

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