Day 14 is a small loser of -$14 and the account stands slightly down at $30,659.
I had two winners and two losers. The winners and losers were of equal size. The losers happened because the platform became sluggish and because I tried to trade even though I sensed that the platform had become sluggish - thus the losers are in a way my responsibility.
By a twist of fate the winners were the same size thus the account was $0 : the $14 is simply the commissions.
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You are doing good, on a winning streak and as a scalper you need to stay glued to the screen, because that is its only similarity to a pay-by-the-hour job.
I am sure just thinking about it makes you overwhelmed by the prospect of this one-week vacation.
What to do during this vacation? (and, more importantly, what NOT to do?)
Should you spend this time for introspection about your recent performance? Study your winners and losers?
Or should you just forget about the markets and give undivided time and attention to your family?
My unequivocal advice is, obviously, to do the latter. There is no better time to ground yoruself and check your equation with your own family.
This does not mean taking them on a grand vacation- rather it can be done better by staying at home - and I mean really staying at home.
Some rules about this vacation: The purpose of this small exercise is checking out your family's perceptions about your trading and obsession with the markets and also thinking about where this obsession has brought you. Do these two things:
Use the week to "rediscover" the family.
The point I want to make is please don't underestimate the power of the obsession with the markets - and even if it is your profession there is a point to consider it as an obsession as anything is if you lose ground with reality. This week could be your chance to really get to know your own family again. While this may sound trite - what is their state of mind?, what are the likes and dislikes (your scalping might turn out to be one of the dislikes, be prepared for that!).
Devote time to get a hold on your current financial scenario.
Think hard and be truthful about these questions:
Do you own your current home? Chalk out a plan to be the home-owner.
If you have investments, are you sure they will ensure a decent future income?
Can you increase your ability to earn more income?
Are you saving enough - minimum 20% of per month's salary?
Are you budgeting to live effectively with the remaining part of salary?
Are you sure you are pursuing scalping as profession and not gambling on impulse? Do you study?
So whenever you decide to take a vacation, choose a time when you aren't on a losing streak, and I hope you can use the above tips for a fruitful vacation.
Disclaimer: I did take a few long-term positions instead of scalping.
Dis-disclaimer: I did take a few scalps twice or thrice - to keep my clicking finger in shape, you know!
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So I rolled this combine ending at $30,410 and completing 20 days. I do not believe in gunslinging the last few days to make profits anymore so I thought it would be better to start a fresh rolled-over combine.
The last combine for me personally was my "most successful ever" not on profit terms by in terms of how I approach everything. It is important to be consistent. Small progresses eventually add up and make one successful.
@matevisky has passed a combine after lot of hard work and had valid concerns which I attempted to address in his journal.
I can feel your pain after working so hard. I myself have done 13 combines (I rolled one over yesterday).
But if you see their business model, you might understand why they have to do it this way.
Firstly the platform.
Why T4 now? Because as a junior funded trader they will ask you to trade during US office hours only - because they want a live person to monitor your risk. Makes sense because they will have real money on the line.
T4 platform allows them finer risk control - in fact it is designed for prop shops where the pit boss can pull a trader out if he is risking too much or not controlling losses.
The reason they want you to start with lower size is also because they have real money on the line and they want to reduce their risk. Note that the LTP and junior funded trader rules are designed to test if your risk profile is low.
Essentially staying a funded trader has an unwritten rule of you be low risk to them while producing profits, gunslingers need not apply is what they are getting at.
Somebody posted an analysis of TSTs business model somewhere, I have the text but do not remember where I got it from:
TST's profit split plus commission markup is still less then total operating expenses. The combine fees need to make up for it. The formula for the combine fees is complicated as they pay out $35 to the exchange for the data. So on a 10 day 30k combine that grosses $150, their net alone on this is only 115. This means if a trader earns a rollover, TST actually loses money on the combine fee the 2nd time around. Or let me put this a different way. If a trader does the combine that cost $150, and gets 4 free rollovers, TST will actually lose $25 net on the total 5 combines.
Assume the rollover ratio is 40%. So we can do some basic math here. For every 10 combines, 6 pay, 4 roll. The 4 roll generate a loss of 4 * 35 or 140. The 6 that pay generate a net of 6 * 115 or 690. That leaves a net of $550 for every 10 combines. I think their payroll is 30k a month. Not counting office space, utility cost, legal cost, marketing cost, etc that gives us these numbers:
54.5 * 10 = 545 combines. That's how many combines they need a month just to breakeven.
Say of those 12 live traders, 6 of them pull out 1k a month in withdrawals. That is fair, half probably are not making anything and the other half are probably trying to build their cushion but will take out 1k. That is 6k coming out in which TST will get 2400.
They are certainly not making millions. If they count all the losses they had to sustain from the traders who passed and went live and flamed out which might be about 1500 on the cheapest combine but that could include 50 to 100 traders over the last 4 years. That's 75k to 150k in losses for them.
The math has to be looked at.
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However, recently I had serious drawdowns. So while I semi-pat my back I also gave some serious thought to why this happens, what I did right, and mainly the stuff that pulls at my strings so that it does not come out of the blue and affect me again.
I visualized what I was doing - When I would see a setup forming at that time my plan incorporates allowing price to move in my direction before it becomes a signal. Once it becomes a signal, I need to hit the mouse and enter on a market order with attached OCOs.
After analysing many hundreds of my trades, I saw that there were three things that I always kept doing wrong:
1. Entering early - predicting the move - this is a discipline thing. The reasons why I used to do this (needed some 'discovering' of me) were because
a. I wanted to be intellectually right.
b. I wanted to market to love me. The 'orphan'(a defined psychological part) in me needed some validation.
c. When on a roll, this would happen from a state of feeling invincible - I could do no wrong.
2. Exiting early - not waiting for the target to be reached or the trade to be invalidated. For this the same reasons apply as a,,b above. Add to that the reason that I was afraid I would lose what I already 'have'. Earlier I used to tightly trail stops but do not do that any more.
3. Holding onto losers, sometimes moving my stop and causing losers to be bigger than winners. This can be attributed to:
a. Thinking that I was 'knowing' what would happen. As Mark Douglas says, a trader needs to truly embrace 'Anything can happen.'
b. Not wanting to be wrong. Again the same 1 (a), and just as flawed.
4. Not entering, (and then sometimes entering late). This was:
a. Risk aversion, staying safe to overcome this I developed courage, backed by faith in what worked for me. Faith in my setup. Faith in myself - by building a history wherein I acted responsibly and 'correctly' and thus my actions built my faith and this turned into a positive feedback loop.
Let me analyse further why I stopped short: Waiting for the setup had not 'cost' anything. Before I would had entered the trade I 'knew' where I would place my hard stop. Once filled, and after seeing a few ticks profit my minds wiring would switch from 'protecting capital' to 'protecting profits'. That was the basic flaw that I had to set about correcting. The thinking that would help me was that the stop loss had nothing to do with the entry point. Thus now the thinking is 'enter a trade only if the stop loss is reasonable for the reward (target)'.
To prevent this I now ask myself these questions: When I move the stop to protect profits am I forgetting to protect my setup that got me into the trade in first place? (Honor, integrity) Why am I cutting that amount in half when the trade is actually working?
Being a good trader to me is 'letting go'. My profits need more breathing room than do protecting my entries. Once the trade setup starts to show profits I assume it has attracted other traders who might believe the move and I must not chop the winner off at this stage.
The principle , again, is: Let the trade work relative to the price action instead of relative to the entry - and if nervous just ride it with the original setup visualized till proved wrong (the stop moves in the direction of the target, never the other way).
To allow the principle to take deep hold of the mind, the following are prerequisites for me:
1. Pick my trades carefully. Be patient.
2. Do not skip trades.
3. Risk no more than 1-2% per trade.
Its hard to fail if you follow these rules, but it can be a huge effort reaching the point that you can follow them.
Thus, to summarize, take all valid setups, let my winners run, and never let a previous trade's outcome or my the P/L display affect the management of the next trade.
Controlling the 'I' in me: Missing out, Losing, Trying to Win:
Another important thing is my accumulated emotions: I can't make a living if I follow my rules for a week, then wipe out the gains in one day by violating one or more of my rules.
This works havoc as follows: say I take four $50 losses in a row, then if I catch a winner I close it at +$50 instead of +$125 because, whew!, I'm now getting back to even, thank God!
The problem comes when after that I actually watch it move $350 more in my favor without me. Therein lies a fierce trigger which unleashes past hurts, missed opportunities, life going by and that sort of rot. Because rot it is. To counter this I always stay grounded, mindful of my breathing and ask myself: Where can I live other than the present?
There are days when I am positive but my biggest 'loss' is actually a massive winner that I cut short because I bolted from my trading plan without a compelling logical reason for doing so. I write in my journal each day that the trade reaches my pre-planned target and I am out it was the usual day and I chickened out. Such winning trades would've covered all losses times over, but at that moment it is a battle.
Any large drawdown earlier blinded me to the new price action picture! I just wanted to take some profit and run to the bank before it 'turns' on me again. Sometimes if I would've given just 20 seconds more of my reserves of patience, which was nothing but adherence to the plan, I would've pocketed an additional 5 ticks.
These are the moments that tried me: In a trice I would've had doubted my plan and didn't want to lose, if the stop was hit, I'd have no one to blame but myself. Nothing about the markets had changed. Only my perception had changed. There came a moment when I realized that trading is nothing but taking responsibility and being responsible for my actions and the whining ceased automatically.
The question should always be: (besides what setup you will use) is how much are you willing to lose on the trade. And: How many trades in a row can you handle getting stopped out in a row without triggering an outburst of emotions?
The only thing standing in the way of making $500+ every single trading day is me. By continuing to tell myself what a tremendous edge I have by trading small size and sanely I am sure I am getting to the point that I can comfortably achieve this.
Several times after a solid string of positive days when I sized up, I incurred relatively large losses. I believe that this happens a lot to traders. If I size up and then take a loss that's now larger than several of my 'small size' winners put together - this places me into a different mental state. What then needs watching out for is this turning into getting it back / do or die attitude. Instead of sticking with the proven winning strategy and waiting patiently for the next setup and taking a brand new unrelated trade and following all rules, the need to 'get it back' overwhelms me and I start overtrading violating my rules.
I feel frustration when I miss a strong move and that might add a slice to the emotional quota that encourages me to break a rule. Even recently I kept trying to fade a huge move, - I had thought I've come a long way from trying to jump in front of a freight train, but it can happen on the next trade. I am slowly learning to quickly jump on the freight train now.
Another frustrating thing is when I've stared at price action that is ranging during the doldrums and I've spent hours watching it, sometimes a good part of the day, and the breakout occurs without me. All it takes is a click which would set the buy stop and sell stop automatically, but then in that moment I haven't done it.
To solve this I just accept things. To everything, I say 'yes'. And I find peace.
There was a day when after I blew something like half of my profits with a ridiculously large stop loss placement, I vowed to myself not to repeat it again. My stops are hard stops and there must be no compromise there. We all know the adage: Honor your stop loss WITHOUT FAIL. The trick to implement is to keep thinking of the bigger picture and being a mere executor of your business plan instead of a market wizard. Simply honor your plan's wishes, as if doing things written on a will of a loved deceased relative, never doubting his sanity, never questioning the beliefs, simply DO IT. That works for me.
The market direction supports my trade. All I have to do at that point is put on the trade, place the stop at the invalidation price and wait for price to reach my target. I am out of the picture for now.
Then there are days when I say to myself 'No trading today' (perhaps I'm not up to it that day, or there are other problems I've to tackle, or I'm just too exhausted). And suddenly in a hole I find myself thinking : hey, I wasn't going to trade at all today. At that point I actually I know everything I did wrong, and I need a good laugh, only it isn't funny. I find myself asking: Is it difficult to stick to one's plan? This is a game of razor sharp awareness. There have been things going on outside my awareness that have caused my actions to deviate from my written plan.
Thus the thing is, I do have a solid strategy. I need to simply wait patiently for the setup to grow a bit and become ripe: it always sets up even though till that point you never are sure it would.
Another final point is: There are days when I start extra cautious and then when I missed the best moves of the morning, I'd try to 'get back' what I missed by trading the mid-day chop, trying to scalp here and there, going both long and short at various places though this is the time of day I'm supposed to stop trading as written in my plan!
And finally I answer the question: What is the greatest cause of large losses for me? It's personal bias. A belief that I ALWAYS KNOW what will happen next even when I'm seeing evidence to the contrary. Thus my confidence and conviction becomes my undoing. This thought has an younger brother who goes by the name of 'average-down' who keeps saying "This has to happen eventually" as if it were written in a rule-book somewhere.
And finally I keep telling myself to hone one skill at a time and not be so hard on myself, perfection is natural and not something that can be forced. And a small cautionary note that confidence is good, but too much of it and I start having opinions, and then an ego based on validating those opinions. I tell myself, why bother and why not let the market do the talking?
I, and each one of us create our own reality, a reality defines our trading. Because how far we progress, we always remain tethered to the truths that we have created. And therein lies the solution to all the problems that one will face, as a trader and in real life as well.
Thank you for reading this rather long post which enables me to improve and hopefully helps you.
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