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Zach's Log
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Zach's Log

  #31 (permalink)
Maine, USA
 
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Doing a little homework. I came up with three likely scenarios of price action that might play out tomorrow morning, if not tonight. I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

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1. If price breaches 2803.50, it's likely that price will rally and test 2821 (green arrows in the SS)
2. If price fails to pass or breach 2803.50, price is likely to regress and test the 2793 area if it doesn't get stuck in a range
(red arrow and purple arrows). If there's little to no bears around the 2793 area, price may test or re-test 2803.50.
3. If price becomes dominantly bearish, it's unlikely for it to cross 2781.
I don't think price would go "too far" past 2786.50.

Ultimately, I think price is going to test 2821 before any major reversal. I'm bullish.
These are the scenarios that I personally would try to trade around.

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  #32 (permalink)
Maine, USA
 
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I ended up taking a trade today in my SIM account out of "sophisticated" impulse. I noticed this morning that one of the scenarios that I had come up with last night actually came true, so I felt compelled to create the final trading plan that would account for live price action behavior, meaning I would sort of improvise my entry and exit within some boundaries. I mentally established at some point this morning that it would be ok to take a trade since it had been 4 days since I put one on, when in reality I was supposed to not trade at all for a couple of weeks and to just analyze the market. Honestly, it has been boring, but the point of not taking a trade is to identify set-ups or opportunities and to test my trading discipline. This inherent desire to trade for the sake of possibly being right and making money is ultimately destructive. What should be focused on is making the right decisions.

I genuinely thought at the start of this 2 weeks of no trading that I would be fine with just watching the market, but my actions suggest otherwise. It seems that I cannot follow my own rules, meaning I'm not disciplined enough right now. So, I'm going to restart this process. Starting today, I won't take a trade for another two weeks. I'll do my homework of contemplating likely scenarios of price at night, then in the morning I'll see if anyone of them have come to fruition. If one of them has, then I will create a sub-plan regarding my entry and exit that consider volume and volatility, support and resistance, testing, and momentum. I won't actually enter though. The idea is to develop this process and make it a habit, while simultaneously managing my monkey brain. I'm developing discipline so I can stop taking low probability trades, and so I can come up with thorough plans. I'm watching without trading so I can better understand when and where to trade without a biased view, and so I can understand whats common among opportunities.

The place that I impulsively entered at was a support and resistance area- 2793. I was excited because the scenario that I had anticipated the most came true- and the extension of this scenario was that price would make higher highs. Out of greed and elation, I thought it would be best to enter right at that level at 8am. A time of low volume, to catch a breakout, to get a head-start on a possible trend. Not a good idea.. I guess I was eager to prove to myself that I was progressing- but that very desire (or emotion) gets in the way of efficient trading, to some extent it seems. I didn't think the extension plan through at all, as I thought erroneously that price was for sure going to break out. If I had to simplify or generalize what happened, I had a half-assed plan that was promising, and I was euphoric enough to act on it. I created an exception or rationalized to act on what I really wanted to do.

Focusing on analysis, night preparation and discretionary planning. Identifying what's common among opportunities (momentum). Disciplining myself.

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  #33 (permalink)
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It's really sad and somewhat disheartening to see traders that have been doing this for years, who still haven't figured it out. I find myself trying to come up with reasonable answers as to why these people haven't turned a corner, the answers may differ remarkably in a specific sense, but the best thing I could think of that may be the all-encompassing answer (as far as there is one) is that these traders don't or cannot learn from their mistakes, and/or cannot implement change. There are a lot of personal virtues or qualities that trading requires.. Think about it, a trader has to be disciplined (which most people are not, think of the influence of smart phones, television, lack of mindfulness, eating shitty food, etc.) to stick to their rules, has to have grit to plow through the losses, has to be objective to identify higher-probability opportunities, has to be intellectually adaptable and relatively emotionally stable to keep up with the markets. This career really does require quite the person. With that being said, I couldn't think of a better career. If you can do this, you get financial freedom. You get all the time in the world (besides the time that you trade) to spend with your friends and family, to travel, to do whatever you want. That's the beautiful thing, and that's what I'm striving for- so whenever I'm in a trading slump, I remember why I'm doing this. Then I remember, in order to trade effectively, I have to change.

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  #34 (permalink)
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The probability of some event occurring in price action changes on a moment to moment basis.
This is going to be somewhat of a long post, but only because I'm uploading in sequence a series of pictures that will help represent my mindset that I intend to make habitual in my trading process. Probabilities, probabilities.

The arrows in this picture show what I thought was the most probable scenario of price action:

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I thought it was more likely for price to continue to the downside because:
1. 2787.50 was a valid level of resistance previously tested (the moment of the screenshot) 4 times today. The level was broken through, but that doesn't necessarily invalidate that price point or area to use as a reference.
2. Price was bearish in the 15 minute chart. Price failed to continue making higher highs and it was now time for the bears to be tested.

What happened seconds to minutes later:

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Buyers jumped in at the 2786 area and sellers closed their positions, bringing price higher and breaking that resistance. When price was at the 2789 area, it was the bulls chance to show their strength- but there was hesitation, and the bulls that bought either sold their positions, or got stopped out from aggressive sellers:

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Now this was the chance for the bears to show their strength, at the 2785 level. There was a little bit of hesitation, so some bears sold, and some buyers jumped in for a reversal. So this was the result:

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Some hesitation from both sides occurred after this. Nobody knew what to do. A big buyer steps in:

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This candle by itself, given the momentum and the fast rate of change of it's development could've scared bears out of their positions, and could've inspired some buyers, but in the end- the bulls hesitated once again, and a massive seller took advantage of this:

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The action of these bearish candles were too fast for a bullish trader to get out in time if they were holding long (generally speaking). Some bullish traders got seriously hurt here. The mess at the bottom of those engulfing bearish candles was a mixture of bulls that got stopped out, thus furthering the bearish move, and bearish traders closing their position, causing the development of bullish candles. Some traders went either short or long here.

The bulls got slammed again!:

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Poor bulls..

Anyways, in the past while trading I wasn't able to clearly and thoroughly determine the probability of an event of price action because I was almost desperately looking for a position, because I was afraid that I would miss an opportunity. I came at analysis from the wrong angle but had good intentions. This not-taking-a-trade process makes me step back and actually analyze to the best of my ability. I'm not focused on losing money, I'm not focused on what I hope the market is going to do next. I'm just observing and truly considering the likelihood of something happening based on what's in front of me: support and resistance lines, whether or not price hesitates around key areas, noting "anomalies" of price like huge buyers or sellers, etc.

I'm not making predictions. I'm not prophesying. I'm considering the likelihood of an event based on a constant stream of information through order flow and basic technical analysis. I definitely will be replicating this approach from now on to the degree that I applied it today- I did do this in the past, but it was useless as I wasn't clear enough with details, and I didn't respect intraday movement (i.e.: my $200 stop loss for every trade, I didn't consider the probabilities of price after entry).

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  #35 (permalink)
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Uneventful day. Price played in a range right out of the open, and it tested both the upside and the downside but failed to make any moves I would've acted on. Volatility was somewhat low for me as well. This is the kind of day I avoid taking any trades, and I know it's not best to jump to conclusions early in the trading day, but on days like these, I just go do something else and check the market later. If I miss an opportunity- fine, there will be plenty more in the future.

In theory, this lenient attitude may be more appropriate for a trader than the opposite, which is a trader feeling like he/she HAS to sit and watch the market so they make sure they don't miss any opportunities. I realized I don't want or need that kind of unnecessary pressure, I would rather trade when I feel like trading. When I'm sitting at my desk watching price, and I feel painstakingly bored, I find myself mentally drifting away and that in and of itself is terrible for my trading. In the past, I would force trades because I felt like I had to trade everyday to make money. It did not work out for me, because I was acting on C grade set-ups under the spell of FOMO.

Obviously there is a balance, and it's funny because I've been in both extremes. Around December of last year, there were a couple of weeks where I only took one or two trades. I was dead-set on acting on only one set-up, and I know that's not such a bad idea for a beginner (that's why I did it) but I've come to realize recently that adaptability is enormously important regarding identifying solid trades. Once again, there's a balance between identifying chart patterns and knowing when price action is nice and confident, and it seems as if the market participants are in sync, causing or creating beautiful momentum and trends. I don't think it would be ideal to just act on certain patterns. I don't think it would be ideal to just act on momentum. But when both things are occurring simultaneously- that's what I consider a great opportunity. (what do I know?)

On a separate note, I'm going to go back through my trading logs and other things I've written to create this compilation of the things I've learned so far. It would only make sense to organize all the information that I've received and to synthesize it into this package, so I can understand it all in sequence and perceive my trading from a more holistic level and work from there. Maybe I'll come up with some useful ideas in the process and realize something.

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  #36 (permalink)
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So I went through every single one of my trading logs dating back to July of 2018. I compiled all of the lessons I've learned up until now into one not-so-neat package. I did this for me and you, but mostly for me. Forgive me if you think the first portion of points are elementary, but I wanted to keep this raw and honest so I started with the very first trading log that I wrote, and noted the lessons in chronological order, then expounded on some points to drive the lessons home. Because of this, the lessons get more and more sophisticated as you read down the list, with some exceptions. There may be repeating or similar points, and definitely some related ideas. Here is what I've learned about trading since I started (some if not all things on here are subjective, and you may disagree):

- Cliches aren't necessarily useless. Cliches are cliches for a reason- these cliches used to be and still are valuable information. (written in last)
- Go with the trend: If moderately long term time frame charts are aligned, it's a safer bet. (imo)
- Don't cancel stop losses. Traders do this out of denial of a losing trade.
- Don't trade impulsively. Always have and stick to a plan. (More on this down the list)
- Let your trades develop. If you don't, you simply won't make money, unless you have a high win rate.
- Don't obsess over the charts. Don't look too far into a trade. (Paralysis from analysis) Technical analysis only gets you so far.
- Don't act on your second thoughts unless they're logical and part of your system or strategy- otherwise, it's self doubt, or you don't trust your system/strategy.
- Don't get nihilistic in your trading. Don't get reckless, you should care about your account balance and be patient with the market. You're going to lose, manage your spite. - I had a big problem with this.
- Give all of your attention to trading while trading. Don't multi-task, don't check Facebook or watch YouTube videos. Treat trading like a business.
- Don't get careless when a trade goes against you. Accept the loss, accept the pain forthrightly. Keep your chin up and laugh it off. (If you're able to let yourself laugh it off- it's incredible IME)
- Don't trade in a choppy market. You know when it's not acceptable to trade.
- Be detached from your capital. It's money you should be able to afford to lose. This is the hardest thing to deal with, perhaps actively address acceptance of risk if you're naturally risk averse.
- Don't resent the market. It's not a person that intentionally hurt you. Realize that your frustration is normal and natural, but don't express it with the buy or sell button. Find an outlet (exercise, fighting- anything physical) - Repeating point in different words.
- If you're going to act indecisively, don't trade. Effective traders make virtually effortless and quick decisions that may or may not be based on their own unique method of making decisions based on experience.
- Realize there are plenty of opportunities in the markets (managing FOMO) so don't beat yourself up from missing opportunities, but put your foot down when or if you get lazy in this regard.
- Create if-then scenarios/conditional clauses for price action. Always, always, always prepare and have a plan. (I do a night-time preparation of likely scenarios, then act discretionarily within a scenario that came true by morning)
- Act on opportunities that are similar enough to your plan. Be adaptable in considering slightly different entries and exits. Don't expect things to go exactly according to your plan.
- Analyze the market long enough to create and feel comfortable with your plan. If you feel something is off about your plan, dig deep and correct it, or change it entirely until it feels and is logically sound.
- Prioritize logic as a personal value. Use your brain in other activities: read, write, learn and practice a field of mathematics.
- Don't listen to anyone elses opinion on market sentiment. Believe and trust your own ideas and have conviction.
- Follow your strategy's rules, always. You may need to develop discipline which can be practiced both inside and outside of trading. Also, stick to one strategy until it has run it's course.
- If you feel like shit, don't trade. Hungover? Don't trade!
- Music may cause emotional reactions and influence trading decisions. For some, it's best not to listen to it while trading, at all.
- Close programs, tabs and turn off notifications. These things can and will interfere at exactly the wrong moment.
- Don't trade with a negative attitude. Don't trade with an overtly positive attitude. Neutrality in affect is a beautiful enabler of profits. Focus on making the right decisions.
- Don't enter immediately after huge buyers or sellers. You might get stopped out from the consequences of such price action.
- Don't trade during insanely volatile conditions (October 2018) unless you're willing to take the risk. Small traders that trade then are asking to get blown up or stopped out.
- Don't trade while anxious or nervous. You cannot think straight while nervous.
- Learn to identify when you're chasing. In order to do this, you have to be present.
- Don't focus on making money back. That is a recipe for disaster.
- Make sure your support and resistance lines/areas are valid in your eyes. Don't plot lines or areas that you think are not significant.
- Get specific, get tedious about your system/general process. The more you know what to do during a trade, during any situation, the better.
- Don't put too much faith in indicators. You're better off with only a few, if not none. (imo)
- Look at multiple charts for a wholesome perspective. Doing this gives me confidence in my soon to be position.
- Practice meditation extensively, and before trading. Presence of mind, coming from a relatively objective place, is necessary to trade effectively or at peak levels of performance.
- Don't be careless in SIM. Don't underestimate the power of learning from SIM, but don't spend too much time in SIM if you're a beginner. I personally started with SIM, had enough of it, went live and failed, then went back. I now value SIM immensely.
- Don't keep changing your game-plan. Be thorough and sure of your first one in the first place. This lack of commitment to a plan can be mentally chaotic, as you won't be sure of what to do next.
- Acknowledge volume throughout the trading day so you won't take a "slow" trade. Knowing that volatility dies down after 12pm in the ES, maybe it's not the best idea to act on a set-up at 11:45. This varies.
- Listen to yourself. Genuinely hear yourself out. (generally speaking)
- Get out of the trade if it has become less probable according to your process. If you don't have an exiting process, stop neglecting to create one. - I'm so guilty of this.
- Just because you haven't traded in forever, doesn't mean you'll make a profit the first trade back. Be conscious and manage that monkey and reptile brain of yours.
- Take a break from trading. You're a person, and this career can be very stressful. Talk to other traders about your trading problems. Find an accountability buddy.
- Your personal life bleeds into your trading life and vice versa. For example, if your spouse just cheated on you, chances are you will not be thinking straight. Unless you're a psychopath- if that's the case, trading should be easy. (maybe)
- Just because you did well yesterday, doesn't mean you can slack off today. Trading requires consistency. Really, you should be aiming to improve (trading and in life) everyday.
- Learning to trade is a procedural process. Trading must be directly experienced, not just semantically understood. Your biology and psychology is in direct conflict with the behavior it takes to reach consistent profitability.
- Risk to reward needs to be based on current market conditions. What's "realistic"? Risk to reward should also be based around your account size (1%-2% risk per trade rule).
- Stop losses should be placed in areas that would be hard for the market to reach, which in turn means you have to get creative with your entries (unless you use wide stops)
- If you make a bad trade and you KNOW it, close immediately. If you broke your own rules and are in a trade, get out.
- If you're feeling lazy and/or unmotivated, don't trade. Get yourself back on track mentally, emotionally, physically, then trade.
- Don't cling to missed opportunities. Forgive yourself and move on.
- Be completely engaged to price action if you're an intraday trader. Concentrate.
- Differentiate critical thinking and planning from forecasting and magical thinking. Put effort into recognizing your own biases, and learn about heuristics outside of trading.
- Don't act on questionable trades that you don't feel confident about. If you end up acting on them, get out.
- Remember that you're going to have bad days, bad weeks, and bad months. All things pass, but you can do everything correctly and still lose money. If you're consistently losing money over very long periods of time though, it's safe to assume you're doing something wrong and/or your strategy is bunk.
- Always set a profit target. Set profit targets based on what's realistic or probable for price action.
- Make/create hypotheses but don't marry them. Keep an open mind, and admit when your plans are no longer credible- this way you can create new ones with more potential.
- Don't trade market conditions you aren't familiar with. Don't trust low volume.
- "Mentally narrate price action and its most likely implications continuously." Think in probabilities.
- Look for and identify arbitrary constraints or restrictions that you have created for yourself. (My constraint was only trading from 10am-12pm)
- You will rationalize to do the wrong thing. There's a war for control going on inside of you and more often than not, your emotions "hijack" your intellect to use it for its own purpose. This is natural. This is why prioritizing logic and objectivity is important when it comes to trading.
- Show restraint if things don't logically add up. You may easily imagine something happening, but if that thought is not determined through logical assumptions of probability based on technical analysis, it's no good. (imo)
- It can be hard to break bad trading habits, so have a growth mindset. If you want to be a great trader, you may have to change.. The way you approach things in your life will inevitably carry into your trading. If you can't keep yourself from eating ice cream, how would you expect to keep yourself from closing a position too early?
- Price may or may not move as far as you think it will. Have "exit levels" where it would be likely for price to stagnate at certain areas, and if you get a negative signal at a certain level, you close there.
- Pay attention to price failures/key area testing, but don't jump to conclusions fast as to what you think price is going to do. Keep watching until the evidence piles up.
- Price action can change from smooth to choppy and vice versa.
- You need to be serious about this. You've got to be all in. You have to be willing to lose all of your money and then some. You have to be willing to spend a lot of time doing research and educating yourself. You have to be forgiving yet tough on yourself at the same time. You've got to be patient, disciplined, objective, rational, consistent, opportunistic, calm under pressure, and you have to manage risk, all in the same breath.

I know this whole thing is somewhat disorganized. If you want to share some lessons that aren't on here that you have learned, feel free to. I'll be adding to this in the future.


Last edited by Zachary Standley; March 1st, 2019 at 08:31 AM. Reason: misspellings
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  #37 (permalink)
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Zachary Standley View Post
...1. 2787.50 was a valid level of resistance previously tested (the moment of the screenshot) 4 times today.

I'll wager that there is a higher time frame inflection point at the center of the orange area. The earlier consolidation area is a clue that there's a magnet at the center. The single bull bar in the bear trend supported here as well, indicating that buyers entered during the bear because it was a pull back to the H2 at the center. They're underwater and want to get healed at the center.

After the bear trend is broken, the price action sellers will be looking for 2 legs up. Others will not want to join the bear while its pulling back from a capitulation.

I don't thing your read is unreasonable, just aggressive and early.

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  #38 (permalink)
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Zachary Standley View Post
If you want to share some lessons that aren't on here that you have learned, feel free to.

Have strong beliefs, loosely-held, with error-bars around those beliefs.

cheers!

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  #39 (permalink)
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I am fully automatizing my strategy and back-testing it. I don't intend on taking a trade or watching live price action to speculate (which feels pointless right now) until the data suggests that what I have for a strategy has potential, if not edge. I've been neglecting to solidify my strategy's rules, so for the sake of back-testing I'm going to create some that would "fill the holes" in it, so to speak. No new trader has edge, and rather than looking through the data to find an edge directly and broadly, I think it would be best to just create some rules that you agree with that mesh with your current strategy, and to put the strategy as a whole, to the test. I'm experimenting with variations of my strategy on one set-up and applying it to past data to see how it would've sufficed.

The reason I changed strategies so many times is because I didn't back-test nearly as thoroughly as I should have and I considered myself more of a discretionary trader. I didn't have confidence in my strategies because I didn't know if I had edge- otherwise I would've put up with the losing streaks that I had. I also had the wrong mindset and was concerned with every losing trade, thinking that every loser reflected my poor abilities as a discretionary trader. Had I truly listened to the advice that I was given here when I first started, I would've made much more progress by now.

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  #40 (permalink)
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I did what I said I was going to do a couple days ago and back-tested a variant of my strategy and it's interaction with this certain set-up. I went back in time through the charts, starting from March 4, 2018 and went from there. I didn't use the playback system in NinjaTrader, I just edged my way forward candle by candle, taking pauses to reflect on whether or not what I was seeing was sufficient enough to apply the strategy. I realized a couple trades in that I should've automated this aspect of the back-test as well, so in order to correct this pattern recognition issue, I started focusing on this narrow and common development of the pattern (that I repeatedly acted on, candle-by-candle) that would suggest to apply my entry and exit criteria. Not all developments of the pattern were the same, so I did miss some set-ups- I ended up taking screenshots of those, on top of the ones that I "traded."

I now have a decent amount of data regarding this set-up and my strategy. I noted the date, time, risk to reward, entry price, stop price, target price, win or loss, and trade PnL. 100 trades (not counting the ones I missed) from March 2018 - September 2018. I know this isn't enough data to confirm edge, but I feel there must be a more efficient way to back-test than doing this. It took me 2 days, and it was a very tedious process, but part of me enjoyed it.

So yeah, I have all of this data. I can sift through it to isolate a set, which may or may not be useful. I can sift through it to see which version (size and shape) of the pattern has the highest success rate within the 100 trade sample size. I can dig in any which way to determine the most concretely promising aspects of my strategy with the set-up and do more tests, more experimentation, to optimize. I can't believe I neglected to fully do this in the past, this feels and probably is the single most useful thing I've done in my trading career.

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