TennisOrDie, I'm not recommending a broker, you have to decide about it. What I can tell you is that I never had any problem with Dorman Trading and with Advantage Futures.
Beware that topstep trader is not free!!! Please read their terms and conditions, see if is for you.
If you can make decent money on your own, there is no reason to have them or anyone else controlling what you do or to share your profit, is not making sense.
The beauty of trading is the independence and privacy is offering (no boss, no people to manage, no clients, etc...), an important factor when making money. I'll never associate myself with anyone, I prefer to trade for myself and keep the total profit.
Very important - be focus, don't get distracted by trying too many potential ways. Trading is a business, treat it like a business - have a trading plan (risk management, trade management, etc.).
I'll have to do some more research on different brokers. I don't think I'm going to switch to Ninja Trader just yet. I tested it out today and it seems a little bit more advanced than ThinkOrSwim. I also want to wait till I can afford a lifetime license. I'll have to prove myself by becoming profitably consistently so I can purchase it.
Also thank you for the advice about TopStepTrader. I was really excited when I first learned about it. Maybe a little too excited. I'm absorbing a lot of information right now and it is difficult to filter the necessary information from the unnecessary.
I do not think I will be going with the TopStepTrader route for the reasons you listed. I want to be in control of my destiny.
I'm also trying not to read too many books at once. I am going to just be reviewing and rereading PATS and Trading In the Zone. Then at the end of each day I will review any trades I took that day and review other locations where I could have taken trades. This should be all that I'm doing for the next few months. I finally feel like I'm getting a handle on how price moves. I'm excited for this week
TennisOrDie, one of the advantages of NT is market replay, you should think about it.
I don't know at least one successful trader who learned to trade from books and I know a lot of traders.
Please keep in mind that most of the books and "gurus" are talking about indicators which are lagging tools created before the existence of advanced personal computers, before HFT and more choppy than trending markets.
Based on my experience, the most reliable are Footprint and Volume Profile because markets are auctions and you must "see" in real time what is going on and to participate by entering and exiting a position.
You are lucky being a member of Big Mike's forum, what he did for traders is fabulous, he also did some webinars about the tools I mentioned.
Regular charts with traditional indicators are like trading partially blind and this is why an estimated 95% of people cannot make money trading. Unfortunately the trading field is full of useless books, courses, software, trading rooms, all kind of "guru" unable to trade profitable, etc. and too little real value.
Success, I see you are a New Yorker, I spent a significant part of my life in NYC and at 9/11/2001 I almost got killed in WTC area, I'll never be able to forget...
Welcome! Good luck on your pathway to trading.
Some things that I found useful:
the webinar library on futures.io (formerly BMT) is great. A great resource for anyone especially the new trader.
Check out the Threads from Big Mike and Tigertrader. They are very helpful to see how the successful traders operate. Stops, sizing, price action are all covered in Big Mike's trading journal thread.
What I have learned is its all about the Mind and risk management. There is a section in futures.io (formerly BMT) about brokers but this is a small fraction of trading. The important thing is the right mental state and perfecting your risk management, which are two of the same thing. This is a business and once the capital is gone, its gone.
Regarding Stop sizing, I have found useful to check out the Average True Range (20 periods) for the timeframe that you want to trade. This will give you an idea of where to place the stop.
Which is fine, and I can see your reasoning. I don't think a consistently profitable trader would ever give up 20% of the profit they've earned if they don't have to. But also consider that at this point, you are unproven. You don't know if you can succeed yet. The combines are not free, but they allow you to trade and prove to yourself that you can do it. They also enforce strict risk control which may be helpful when you're first starting. Also keep in mind you you're not bound to TST forever. If you find success you can always ask for a wire and just start trading for your own account.