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Ashmat's Topstep Trader Combine Journal

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Ashmat's Topstep Trader Combine Journal

  #31 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 3 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
I have NO idea what I was doing today. =) I took a WTI open trade and took 8 ticks profit. I did not know how the market would move before the EIA number, so I decided it might be best to watch. I did take a couple scalps, one break even and one for a small loss.

Once the number came out, I waited to see what it would do to the dayís high. It broke through to the upside, then back down. I took a long at the dayís pivot and this is where I just lost it. I closed it at B/E, too worried about taking a loss. Good trade, poor execution. It broke above the previous high, so I went long again. I donít think it was a bad trade, rallied a bit, then stopped out for a small loss. I then sold on the breach of the previous high, reversed long and then as CL fell below the level, I forgot I had a trading plan and proceeded to catch a falling knife. I got cut to shreds. =) I stopped trading at my personal daily loss limit of $600. Combine calls for $1000.00.

Anyway, going to shorten this up a bit. The reason I lost today was because I let emotions dictate my trading and abandoned my strategy. This has been the demise of many a trader, but I refuse to fall into this trap! Having successfully traded before, I know what I have to do. Now I just need to do it. Iím getting caught up in the wrong things, like being new to Crude. Thatís a lame excuse. While CL does have certain characteristics I like, trading is trading, and my plan should work well for Crude. Just have to execute and quit trading scared.

Positives: Started off on the right foot, kept to my daily loss limit and stopped trading when I hit it.

Improvements: Stopped following my plan, chased trades, and traded scared.

Plan for tomorrow: Going to abandon my WTI open strategy, as I have to react way too quickly and am not really trading off any significant levels. I may place trades before the WTI open depending on levels, but for now I will focus on key levels that the market actually looks at. I believe my trading plan is sound if I just have the guts to follow it.

I want to be a full time trader again so bad I can taste it. I believe that if I can get through this combine, I will be well on my way. I LOVE this format!!

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  #32 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 4 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
Only had 3 trades today. First trade was a short reversal off the intraday high at 10766. Crude had broken above on a huge move earlier and I waited for a decent entry. I was stopped out at 10775 for a 9 tick loss. I was fine with that trade as the continuation down after a large move did not surface and my stop protected me.

2nd trade was another short below the R1 pivot at 774. My only critique of this trade was that entry could have been better. I risked 21 ticks, which was above the R1 pivot of 10789 and target was the pivot of 10724 for 50 ticks. I was again stopped out at 10795 for a 21 tick loss.

3rd and final trade was a long at 10810. I had a stop at 10780 and target of 10860. Again, I was not happy with my entry, though sticking to my trading plan. A loss would hit my personal daily loss limit of $600.00, so I was okay with that as well. I was stopped out at 10780 and stopped trading for the day.

I am questioning the way I trade my strategy. I am not comfortable with 20 and 30 tick stops, but want to give these trades a chance to run a bit. The combine parameters are tough, and while I will not abandon my strategy, I may look at scalping the strategy until I become more comfortable with larger risk/reward trades. My strategy works for both shorter and longer term trades, but I am concerned about hitting my max loss limit. Would only take a few trades to hit that parameter while looking at larger moves.

Positives: Followed my plan, did not over trade.

Improvements: Need to improve my entries. Questioning my risk/reward parameters. Missed a couple good set ups because the 50 tick move in 2 minutes made me more cautious and I was less willing to pull the trigger.

I guess I need to decide if Iím a scalper or a longer time frame trader.

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  #33 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 5 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
Well, Iím making progress. I got off to a late start and was determined to trade my plan today.

First trade was a long off short term support at 685. I was stopped at 673. Not a bad trade, HOWEVER, I did not use my typical confirming entry. In this case, an entry above the close of the support line would have adhered to my plan. I was trying to get a better price and still not terribly disappointed in the trade.

Second trade was a short at short term resistance at 697. This trade was executed per plan, but I was stopped at 707. I really hate starting the day off with 2 consecutive losers, but I was determined to stick to my plan.

Third trade was a long off support at 707. I widened my stop to below previous support and closed the trade out at the daily pivot area, filled at 729. I did not plan to let it run, as my goal was to get back even.

At this point I was break even and decided to focus on trading around the pivot.

Went long at 732 and closed at 728, when it hit the pivot line on the downside.

Went short at 724 and covered at the pivot line again at 730.

Went long again at 733, above the pivot, and reversed at 724.

At this point I had a 30 tick profit target and was filled at 694.

That was the final trade for the day. I booked a small profit and decided to stop on a plus. I wanted to avoid over trading and I also prefer to start earlier.

I have a ways to go, but was happy I stuck to my rules today. Helps to do that during a live trading session, as it helps to reinforce whether the plan actually works.

Positives: I stuck to my plan today, even though I got chopped up a bit.

Improvements: I think I really needed to wait for better levels, such as the daily pivots. Looking to be more patient tomorrow.

Even though my profit was low today, it was a profit and I felt very good about my trading. Now I just need to do this consistently.

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  #34 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 6 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
Combine Day 6

Well, I am still struggling with my discipline. 3 trades today.

First trade was long at 565 off the S2 pivot and I was stopped out just below the pivot at 555 for a 10 tick loss.

Second trade I re-entered long above the pivot, but moved my stop as it went against me. I was very lucky the trade eventually went in my favor and I closed out at an 11 tick profit, making me even for the day. Lucky is not a good thing in this situation. I gambled, plain and simple.

Third trade I did the same thing, shorting at support at 642. I knew the stop should have been 649, but I did the same thing. My thought process was I was tired of my first trade being a loser and I was determined to make it a winner. Instead of doing what I was supposed to, I moved my stop again and finally just closed the position for a 41 tick loss.

These are old habits that have crept back into my psyche. Part of the problem is I started the first few days of the combine in the hole. And the fact that it seems my first trades are often losers, not sure why there, but thatís not the issue.

The issue is I have to get the psychological issues resolved or I will never progress as a trader. How will I ever know if a trading plan works if I donít have the discipline to execute it?

I am very close to my loss limit in my combine. I have a plan for tomorrow and will hopefully be able to scratch myself back. If not, Iíll continue to trade the account for practice and hope I can learn something to apply to my next combine. I know what I have to do, the question is, can I do it? Time will tell. I have been a successful trader in the past and refuse to give up.

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  #35 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 7 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
I banked profits early this morning and was very happy with the way I traded. Of course having a profitable day does make it easier.

I made a couple observations yesterday that I want to record for my own benefit. Whether they mean anything, time will tell.

1. When buying/selling off support/resistance, make sure the short term trend is still intact.

2. Observe larger trades at key levels to determine if I can read anything into that. Not necessarily going to trade off that until I can see patterns, if any.

3. I think for me, this is the most important! Look at intraday levels closely. Not having traded Crude before, I have been struggling on finding true key levels. In looking back historically, there are very good levels created from intraday action that may not necessarily fall in line with pivots. I also plan on recording the strongest levels and focus on those. Still a journeyÖ.

I am still trying to determine whether a 10 tick stop is reasonable based on where I place my trades. Seems a 20 tick stop might allow for some more wiggle room, but so far it seems most of the time when I move my stop further from 10 ticks, I still get stopped out. For now, I am hoping to keep my stops at 10 ticks and record what happens. Will give me a better idea.

First trade was a scratch. Went long at the WTI open right above the pivot, it ran up a bit, and I moved my stop to BE and was stopped out.

Second trade was a long at the pivot, without a confirming signal. I moved my stop from 10 to 18 ticks, which was short term support, and was quickly stopped out. Once again, was trying to get a better price, but did not receive a confirming signal. I have done this before.

At this point, I have started in the hole once again, mainly because I did not trade on my confirming signal.
The next 3 trades were solid, rule based trades and I ended up 34 ticks on the day.

Still alive and with a fighting chance. Felt much better going into the trading session today, and even though I started in the hole, I was determined to trade my plan. Still working on my consistency. I know these posts are lengthy, but they have been helping. Hopefully I am benefiting another trader who is having the same struggles. Back at it tomorrow, but will do a little paper trading for the rest of the day.

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  #36 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 8 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
When I traded stocks, I used stops a lot to enter trades. I think eventually, I moved away from that and became much more of a rogue trader, thinking I was Godís gift to trading. That didn't end well . I decided to implement that in my trading today. I have found when placing market orders, Crude is oftentimes well above or below where I would have liked to get in. I also find that when I use stops to enter trades, I am expecting a very specific momentum move. When that doesn't happen, I am able to remain more disciplined and get out quickly, since the move was not what I had expected.

I placed several trades at a few key levels and without getting too lengthy, I was stopped out at BE on every single trade. The one trade I didn't pull the trigger on was at the biggest move of the day. I have gone from being trigger happy to trigger shy. I had the set up and was ready to go, but got BIASED to the downside again. Will I ever learn?

Bottom line for today is I was much more comfortable adapting my old style. I will continue to do this going forward and I think it could work very well for Crude. I never once moved my stop because I panicked. Itís interesting that 4 trades today moved 10 ticks in my favor, but my target was a minimum of 30 ticks profit and I move my stop to B/E after a 10 tick run in my favor. Iím going to keep an eye on this very closely, though for now, I will look for larger targets as long as there is room (i.e. clear from previous sup/res areas. I canít go broke breaking even, but I canít make money doing that either.

I consider today a great day. I think I am evolving, as I should be. And while it was not a profitable day, it was a fantastic learning day. Next step is to take my trading style and tweak it until I believe I can be consistently profitable. Donít know if Iíll recover to even earn a rollover, but so far this has been a phenomenal experience!

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  #37 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 9 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
Today was a poor day to trade momentum. I executed my plan and stayed disciplined until my last trade. Again, I was frustrated that I couldn't get the few few trades in the black. I followed my entry rules for the last trade, but moved my stop and got stubborn on the position, determined to will it to move my way. It didn't and I was stopped out and got close to my $600 personal daily limit. The problem I have now is I am only $120.00 away from my max drawdown.

It has been a very difficult week personally, but regardless, I should have been patient and not let my emotions get to me. That is the current battle! I am going to skip trading tomorrow and resume after the holiday. I'll do some paper trading tomorrow and see if I can get this figured out. If I blow this combine, there is always another. I know I can do this once I take the emotions out of it, accept the fact losses will happen, and let my profits run a bit. I know had I just traded my plan, the damage would have been far less. I have to get past letting those first few trades get to me. I also need to look if there might be a reason few of my initial trades are ever profitable. Patience maybe? I'll have to take a look. I can use the 4 day break coming up to clear my head. I will get this!!

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  #38 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 10 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
I discovered something today. I am not a big move trader. I look at charts and see these large moves off of major levels and think I can do that. It does not fit my trading style or comfort level. I am a short term, momentum trader and find when I trade that way, I am more disciplined and consistent.

Today was a rough day. I was up $310.00 and had a personal target of $400.00. I proceeded to lose the $310.00 and then became desperate, as I was only $120.00 away from my maximum drawdown. Very hard to stay focused when that number is hitting you in the face. I tend to start out very strong and then fade later. Part of this is due to wanting to catch these large moves.

Anyway, the plan going forward is to trade 2 contracts and look for good momentum set ups. Thatís it, no more swinging for the fences because I tend to strike out! Maybe one day I can develop a method that will allow me to take advantage of large moves, but for now, I need to stay true to my style. No more conflict.

I still have 10 days to use the combine account as practice, and in two weeks I will start another combine and hopefully will have my plan in place. My goal for the next 10 days is to trade my style exclusively and get the combine account profitable, even though it is too late to be considered.

Of course, the conundrum here is trading a practice account that doesn't count will be easier than trying out for the combine. I realize that and will just focus on placing good trades that fit my style. I am just going to focus on trading my style and will continue to update the journal daily.

I continue to learn about myself through this and think I may have turned a corner. I wonít know for sure until the next combine, but for now, I remain confident for the future!

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  #39 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 11 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
Well, more of the same today. Considering I blew up my combine, I didn't take my trading seriously. I mentioned that I had 2 distinct strategies that I was going to play today. I implemented the first strategy at the open, taking two trades with a small loss. I then decided I was just going to play around (not a smart idea) and work on my risk/reward parameters. I managed to get back to even, took a really stupid long trade that reversed immediately. After that I traded recklessly and eventually hit my daily loss limit on my characteristic last desperation trade.

Itís really interesting that I continue to look at historic charts, develop a sound plan, and trade COMPLETELY OPPOSITE of that plan. Truly, I trade the exact opposite of the plan more so than not. I try to catch bottoms, find tops when a signal has already stated the possible direction. Itís weird and I just donít get it. I have 9 days left and if I want my next combine to be successful, I had better treat this as if I was still alive in the combine.

Not sure if I will be able to trade Friday, just because I am travelling. I know what I have to do. Hopefully I can talk about my next trading day in the context of actually following my plan.

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  #40 (permalink)
Newcastle, CA/United States
Posts: 60 since Aug 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 22 received

Day 12 with trade report

Ashmat View Post
I placed 3 trades today, with the intention of simply working risk/reward. Every trade was a loser, as I was stopped out at 20 ticks each, with a 50 tick target. Frustrates me that when I have done this in the past, the trades end up being losers, just as today. Happy with entry and my targets and stop losses, but still trying to figure this out. I guess I can’t measure the success on only 3 trades, so I’ll keep working on this.

Monday I’ll be back to working my 2 primary set ups. My goal is to trade without fear, which is easier since this combine doesn’t count, but I have to work on my setups and discipline. If I can use the next 8 days to trade as I would the new combine, I might be ready when that time comes. I need to reinforce the good habits, regardless of the outcome for now. Again, I know what to do, but have yet to do it with any consistency. This will be my focus.

I am looking forward to getting back to trading on Monday. My plan still has not changed, but it has before once I start trading. I really want to focus on trading my plan and not letting myself get frustrated. I hope to say I had a good trading day, win or lose.

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