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FM's Trade Log
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FM's Trade Log

  #1 (permalink)
Elite Member
Los Angeles CA
 
Futures Experience: Beginner
Platform: NT8
Favorite Futures: NQ YM ES ZN CL GC HG ZS 6E 6A 6J 6C
 
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Posts: 181 since Jan 2016
Thanks: 492 given, 381 received

FM's Trade Log

A bit about my trading: I am at the screen an hour or two per day between work and family obligations. Depending on what is setting up during the hours I am on the screen, I might trade ZN, 6E, ES, CL, ZS, or any other reasonably liquid contract.

I encourage any and all constructive comments / questions / advice / posting your own trades on this thread.

Unless otherwise noted, the trades in here will be real, not sim. I would rate my skill-level at just a little bit above novice. Tried a few different styles over the last 5 years, each with a lessening degree of failure. Now I am profitable over the last few months, but those profits are modest. Trying to keep the streak going and build on it. If things do start to slip significantly, I'll have to drop down to sim and regroup. Not planning for that to happen.

Various real and artificial constraints at the moment have me averaging less than one trade per day. I'll try to post them here as often as time permits. Generally my winners are 2 or 3 times the losers, but I have quite a few break-even or near-break-even trades mixed in. I can't sit at my screen while trades are open, so I use regular trailing stops. This has some obvious disadvantages, but so far I've calculated that the pros outweigh the cons. This is an aspect of my method that I continously monitor.

Today's trade was a bit of a whipsaw, and one of the rare cases where trailing my stop caused some harm. Took an average loss. Even so, had I been in front of the screen in the following minutes, it looks like price gave another opportunity to get short. I was not, and wouldn't have taken it anyways, since at the moment I avoid trading after even a moderate loss. So it goes.

15 minute 6C attached showing -13 ticks on this trade. I've marked it up and generally will try to keep consistent with Blue line entries, Green targets, and Red stops. I may also post before / after images in the future.

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-FM

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  #2 (permalink)
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  #3 (permalink)
Elite Member
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Futures Experience: Beginner
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Favorite Futures: NQ YM ES ZN CL GC HG ZS 6E 6A 6J 6C
 
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Poor Execution


Sort of a tough one today. Didn't lose any money, so that is the bright spot.

Heading into the open a lot of items had been been bought up overnight into overhead resistance. CL, ES, 6A, to name a few. I waited for them to act off resistance, looking to short, but the reaction to Consumer Confidence report was positive and they busted through.

I didn't have anything in my playbook for what I was watching, and didn't see a good opportunity to go long, so I took another look across other instruments and noticed Gold was for some reason staying strong even with the buying in equities. Spotted a great setup there a couple candles after the news, but I just didn't act decisively to get a trade on it. Blame whatever, it's poor execution.

Unfortunately I wasn't quite prepared for what the market wanted to do today, didn't adapt quickly, and missed an opportunity as a result. Was there some doubt in there also? Maybe some fear? Probably a bit of that, too.

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  #4 (permalink)
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Futures Experience: Beginner
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Favorite Futures: NQ YM ES ZN CL GC HG ZS 6E 6A 6J 6C
 
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Posts: 181 since Jan 2016
Thanks: 492 given, 381 received

First Bicycle Ride

It's funny, in the three months before this week I had one whipsaw, but in this week alone I had two. Posting a beans chart at bottom that is pretty comical to look at. As I mentioned before, I'm aware that stop management (trailing stops) is a potential weak spot in the way I trade, but it doesn't seem to get in the way of capturing profits in the long run. I could certainly stand to loosen those up just a bit though. My sample size isn't big enough to be completely sure. I will be adding better metrics in the spreadsheet I keep to quantify "hypothetical" gain for future data-mining.

But that trade isn't the story for today. A little loss on a decent setup is no big deal. The story is what came after, when I followed that loss with another, and then another. Both of which were rule-breakers for me, and something I haven't done in, well, months. Basically, I jumped in and out and back in to a trade that wasn't going anywhere in the first place. There's a reason I have been avoiding trading after a losing trade - it keeps the daily loss down, and avoids that stinging feeling of very quickly making a serious dent in whatever progress you have made. There is a lot of pressure on a beginning trader with a small account to protect equity. The longer you last, the more you will learn. At least, that's what has worked for me. The mental equity that you risk blowing away is even more important than the actual financial equity.

So why breaking rules now? The analogy that comes to mind is the kid learning to ride a bicycle. Dad pushes him along, dad lets go, and the kid does it. He is riding a bicycle, but he doesn't even realize it. And he's doing a damn good job of it. Then, he looks back.

He looks back and now he knows what he is doing, he thinks about what he is doing, the accomplishment, the amazement, the pressure to continue, and he tightens up. He wigs out. He falls.

I had some modest successes in trading over the past few months, and I did it by keeping my head in the zone more than I've been able to in the past. Then, as things start to go well, I start acting like that kid. I get excited, I start thinking about a billion things that actually have nothing positive to contribute to the regular daily grind of making trades, and I fall off track.

So, drawing down. To say it is frustrating is an understatement, but I don't want to get too emo here and will try to come from a reflective place... just re-reading the tone of my previous post made me think about Frustration and what place it has in trading. I'm not sure frustration itself is the problem, but one's response to it. Mistakes happen. Move on.

I've definitely been tightening up recently, and will be taking a few days off live trading to reset, loosen up, and get back to business. As promised, below is a chart of beans trade -7 ticks. Enjoy. Not posting the other chart, not much to see there.


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-FM

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  #5 (permalink)
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Posts: 181 since Jan 2016
Thanks: 492 given, 381 received

Back in the saddle

Futures Edge on FIO

Which products do you trade?

 
Back at it today after a 2 week hiatus. What did I do in that time? Well, what made me take the break in the first place wasn't just the little draw-down I was in, but that there were more than one instances within that drawdown where I violated my setup rules, and more importantly, my money management rules...

So I read a lot of the psych threads here at futures.io/bmt, reinforcing a lot of things I had already come across. What I've done is I have made an effort to re-allign myself toward rules-based performance evaluation, rather than dollars and cents. I've completely redesigned the spreadsheet I use to track my trades. I've separated my rules-set into risk-management rules (very important and rigid) and setup rules (also important, but more nuanced).

Capturing a lot more data as well around hypothetical stop results. And I've started using the active trader tool to place my bracket orders, which saves some headache around setting up orders. I've also decided not to use trail-stops any more initially in a trade (will manually move stop), only moving into a trail-stop when I need to leave the screen.

But also, I'm doing a bit of head-trickery, which I'm most interested to see how it works for me. I've made an effort to move dollars and cents out of the main page of my tracking spreadsheet. I'm focusing on initial Risk (R) and maximum per-trade and per-day risk, and max drawdown. No more arbitrary weekly / monthly performance evaluations which create unnecessary pressure to perform at the beginning and end of those periods. Looking at performance metrics in terms of R, rather than dollars. Also, I've added a formula-based red-light / green-light cell that will be my "OK TO TRADE" status. If the cell is green, then I haven't hit my draw-down limits and I've been following my rules well enough. If it's red, it's time to take a break for a pre-defined number of days because I've violated one of my core money-management rules. And lastly, my intention is to hide all rows other than the current trade I am placing, to keep the focus on the current trade. It's hard to trick the brain to not think about the money ... and I have no illusion that it is actually possible. My real hope is that by structuring things this way, I will consciously be reminded to focus on the plan and not the result.

I got the impulse I was waiting for on 6E. Trade worked out well. Very lucky to walk up to the first tee after a bit of a break and split the fairway. +69 ticks (34.5 pips).

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  #6 (permalink)
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Thanks: 492 given, 381 received

2 down

I was stalking this ZN trade pre-market and it ended up materializing with a low risk entry long just after the open. I measure trend over the last 5 - 7 days, and only look further back than that in case there are major levels to be aware of. So technically this was a counter-trend trade for me as the prevailing trend over the last week in ZN was bearish. But this trade was sort of in the right arm-pit of what could still develop into an inverse head and shoulders short term bottom (in a pullback within a larger up trend). Alas, it was not meant to be today as looks like the movers and shakers decided to take Friday off. I still made a small profit on the trade as it gave me some green before petering out. +3 ticks.

Only 2 trades this week. I was watching closely and my reads were pretty good on Wed / Thurs, but just didn't get any setups to draw me in. Market seemed to be running off pretty quick without doing me the decency of some low risk entries. By the time the picture would clear up, things felt too "chasey". Even though they often did keep running. I might throw up some examples of this kind of scenario because it happens pretty often to me and I'm trying to come up with ways to start capitalizing on it instead of letting them pass by. It's kind of like the "identify this is a likely trend day and just hop on board" sort of thing. Not so good at that.

But the two trades I did take, I followed the plan. That makes a streak of 2.

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  #7 (permalink)
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foggy

I was not in rhythm today. Got to the desk late and rushed through the plan. I took 2 trades which I would grade at a "B" and a "C-", and didn't manage well. But I kept risk low and followed my money management rules, which kept me out of trouble.

My core risk management rule currently is max daily loss of 1.25R, and max loss per trade obviously at 1R. First trade only risked .25R, and ended up costing exactly that (-5 ticks in ZS). Second trade risked another .44 R and ended up costing .36R (-9 ticks in CL).

ZS was in an uptrend and presented a break long that didn't have much room to run, but I was able to get a low risk entry, so I took it. Since I didn't have a ton of confidence in it, I waited for the break to pop, to see if there would be a little pause/pullback where I could jump on a continuation. That's exactly what happened but there was no real followthrough at that time and I took a small loss. M15 below. -5 ticks

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CL was the worse trade of the two. It really wasn't a valid setup. I didn't have much business being short against the trend at this spot. Had I been paying attention, I would be waiting for 33.3 to break and only then allow a short. As it was, I shorted right into support. I moved my stop in a bit as I got a little bit of green on the trade, but in the end it didn't matter either way. Below is a M3 chart, since it's hard to see what got me in on a M15 (another big clue that this was a non-setup). -9 ticks.

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Although these weren't great setups, especially the second trade, risk management rules were maintained, so the streak goes on. The general goal right now is to get a streak of 100 straight trades where all risk management rules were followed, and at least 75%-ish (90% would be better) of the trades were "A" or "B" trades.

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  #8 (permalink)
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Favorite Futures: NQ YM ES ZN CL GC HG ZS 6E 6A 6J 6C
 
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Thanks: 492 given, 381 received

Brunch

Was at the screen from the quiet hour of 5:20am here (pacific) but after an hour of watching and planning, other more important duties called me away just as the market opened. I missed some action, and I'd like to think I might have taken advantage of some of that, but alas I will never know.

I had some time to focus eventually, but it was late in the game, almost noon Eastern. A few days ago I told myself I'd start considering more trades in this 11 to Noon Eastern window, just because it is a time I happen to have mostly available. Not the best time generally, I know, but I am just probing it to see if there is anything to be had there.

Today's trade in 6E, ignoring the time of day, was a decent setup that just didn't pan out. Downtrend. Pullback into resistance. Sellers stepping in and showing some strength. A break-down with a a low risk entry. Definitely some imperfections but I'll give it a "B". I made a conscious effort to just let this one pan out, since it was moving so glacially slow. Could I have managed it better? Jumped out quicker? I'm tracking a few alternate trailing-stop methods that would have made this a smaller loss. But it was small to begin with. Only risked .45 R.

I'm gathering a lot more data than I ever have before so after I've got a 100 trades to look at, maybe I can make some intelligent decisions and start to refine my filtration on entries, and make better decisions about when to cut a trade short.

On to fight another day. I'm out for the next day or two. I have too much other stuff going on so won't be taking any trades.

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  #9 (permalink)
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  #10 (permalink)
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Removing Obstructions


Losing trade today for -0.6R in CL. I've seen this momentum followthrough breakout trade work in CL before. I think it had a reasonable chance of working given the 4:1 R/R, but I'm giving this entry a C rating, because it was a chasing trade and not my standard setup. I was forcing it. Really I think this was a FOMO trade as I was pushing to get into a trade early instead of waiting for the right moment. I was right about CL going higher (it's marching up to my target now after the 3rd break attempt), it just wasn't going to make the actual move until after 10:30 Eastern

One might think, upon reading the past few days of posts, that I am OK with what is barely mediocre performance.

That isn't the case.

Obviously I have no intention of playing to break even, which is where I am at now. Nor am I playing for second place, like Mr. Sergio Garcia did yesterday. I am playing to win. But the craft of trading throws a number of wrenches in the usual "give it your all" kind of approach to winning.

In the effort to learn to trade, it becomes necessary to balance intensity with a lightness of being. Because this is, as many have said, a marathon. And although one must have high expectations in the long run, and stay motivated to excel, it is equally important to not be deterred by losses along the way, and to balance an intensity to win profits with a conscienciousness to manage risk.

That means accepting that today won't be the day I suddenly trade like a professional. But today and every day I trade with the intention of doing so. Follow the plan, one trade at a time.

Big picture focus this week: Removing conflict. Enhancing focus. Maximizing intensity. ACTING FREELY and without hangups.

I made a significant change to my approach this week. Not to my method. I've simply come to realize that in order to do this well I need to remove all conflicting demands so that I can swing freely during the hours I am trading. As such, all trading activity for me is being moved to times where there is zero overlap with family or work. Anything else was just asking for self-sabotage. How could I expect to excel at trading when in the back of my head the time I put into it was drawing away from my ability to excel at my occupation, and at home.

So I have moved my focus to the pre-open. There is enough action from 8:30E to 9:30E in ZN / CL / 6E / ES. The family is asleep. The office is asleep. That is my time. No conflict. No blame or excuse for missing out on this or that trade. I'm either there, making the right decisions, or I'm not.

It feels like a positive step. I didn't have an overly negative reaction to the full stop-out today. But I also need to pay attention - the clearly defined and smaller window to take trades is going to motivate me even more to take sub-par setups like today! My primary objective: Take more "A" entries! Take less "B" and lower entries!

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