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Trading Journal: Path to Consistent Profitability + Trading Career
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Trading Journal: Path to Consistent Profitability + Trading Career

  #11 (permalink)
Oakland, CA
Trading Experience: Beginner
Platform: Jigsaw
Favorite Futures: US Treasuries Futures
Posts: 29 since Jun 2018
Thanks: 20 given, 30 received

Trade Review - Aug 25, 2019

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Not happy with this week. VIX was low Monday + Tuesday as the market was awaiting the meeting minutes. Didnít take any live trades Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Then Thursday only took one trade (a loser). By Friday, I was anxious to get a winner and saw a setup, but took the same trade 3x and each time lost.

Why is it that a triumphant big winning week often gets followed by an even bigger and more exasperating losing week?

Also, recency bias is at play here, as I ended the week weak.

Psychologically, a week of all red isnít good for me. Hopefully more setups next week, although it did provide me with such much needed demo time with trading mean reversion setups.

Among the actual trading strategy, I only consider one of the four (the last one) a bad trade. There were a lot of reasons not to take it:

Time of day (after 12PM Pacific - so after bond pit close)
3rd attempt at the same trade (todo: prevent this in plan)
Know that when the market is up by the S3 level, itís unlikely to rally further without greater news (Carter points this out in his book)
Itís Friday afternoon, dummy. People are having drinks in NY, not trading the market.
Also, I sort of chased this market and got suckered in.
I was trading on Tilt and frustrated by my lack of progress this week.

So not a lot I can do about it now but alter my plan:

Donít take the same setup 3x (only 2x)
Stick to trading times. After bond pit close, donít initiate any new trades (no matter how tempting)

I noticed I was upset after my second losing trade on Friday; I think I did a good job to get away from the screen for a good 10 minutes. I think a mandatory 10 minute break from the screen is in order any time I feel like Iím trading on tilt (which I took).

Also - one thing that I think worked really well was respecting my rule of ď3 strikes youíre outĒ (aka quit after 3 losing trades during the day). This at least helps me not lose too much on bad days.

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I think some of the frustration, too, comes from the pivot plays not working very well this week. I think one thing that Iím finding is that defining levels is really important in this market, especially when there isnít news happening. But how does one define their levels? Itís easy enough to draw S+R but that doesnít mean the market will respect it. Also - when do you go with it and when do you fade it?

I had a good laugh at Ok. 3 weeks! Ha. Clearly more discipline + grit is required than getting through three weeks.
One of the main things Iím learning is to ďembrace the suckĒ and put in screen time and I just assume that most successful traders have gone through this.

With that said, Iíve spent a lot of time considering: is it psychology or is strategy? And my conclusion has been: no, itís not psychology, itís strategy. As Bella at SMB says, often people think itís psychology when itís really lack of edge. And grit will only take you so far: without a winning ďhow toĒ you will never be profitable.

Iím thankful for that thread and for alerting me to it (as well as the original poster plus those who followed up) for the suggestion to seek out OTA/Sam Seiden. I think thatís just one educational source out there to research. Although I still think there are some hidden gems in John Carterís book which I have yet to discover.

Iím also curious what the community would recommend re: education around setting levels and/or setups (especially for bond markets). Iíve been through most of John Gradyís stuff + Jigsaw training, and think I understand most ďconventionalĒ TA.


Another frustrating thing is that it appears as though I have no, or very little, edge around my ďholy grailĒ setup.

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Iím not really sure what to do about this. Iím hoping to cannibalize my own setups (hopefully finding better ones that just replace these).


So hereís what I can do next week:

* Keep trading Holy Grail in volatile markets
* Figure out *exactly* where + when John Carter goes with vs. going against with his pivot plays.
* Start filling out spreadsheet each day with new John Carter Pivots (I was using automated ones, not Carterís ones)
* Update trading plan as specified
** Donít take the same setup 3x (only 2x)
** Stick to trading times. After bond pit close, donít initiate any new trades (no matter how tempting)
** Fill out pivots at start of day
* Look for another setup in John Carterís books that fits well with bonds (especially in non-trending markets).
* Read PDF of ď5 years of sam seiden supply + demand teachingĒ
* Start coming up with a ďstart of dayĒ and intra day objective measure for volatility (I have VIX already, but itís clearly only one item that will indicate volatility, and doesnít do a very good job of indicating volatility intraday).

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  #12 (permalink)
Oakland, CA
Trading Experience: Beginner
Platform: Jigsaw
Favorite Futures: US Treasuries Futures
Posts: 29 since Jun 2018
Thanks: 20 given, 30 received

September 1, 2019

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Basically a breakeven week this week - small profit of $15

A weird week as VIX was elevated but not a lot f trend moves. Definitely seemed more risk on this week and less fear in the market (this was also seen in the seoll off in Gold). Also a weird week with the Labor Day weekend approaching and contract rollovers going on.

So took a few trades but by Wednesday it was pretty clear the holy grail setup wasnít going to work very well in these markets and decided to concentrate on John Carter Pivot setups.

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I actually realized half way through the week that my interpretation of his setups was actually backwards and so shifted them (v1 = first interpretation, v2 = second interpretation).

I also made a variant for myself. This variant uses only one contract although is basically the same (with minor differences: it doesnít trail the stop and doesnít use two different targets). Since I have a tiny account, Iíd really like to play these levels with just a one lot so think this setup will suit me better.

Friday was a special day as the weekend mode was already on, volatility was really low, and I could tell that with wide ranges the trades wouldnít make it. So I created another setup called the ďlevel reversionĒ which is another similar trade, but uses 1:1 R:R and is good for these dead days (day before a holiday, big news event, etc).

I started making a doc with pivots and updating these nightly for the next days trading + updating on my DOM (and adding that to my trading plan). It would be nice to just use the ones in the tradingview, but unfortunately it doesnít mark off half points between the pivots which are key levels.

Iím printing this out daily + putting it in my trading binder (with screenshots of every days trades). Iím not sure if all of this manual work is adding much, but it does give me a good way to think of potential levels + probabilities. One lesson from last week is that when the price is trading up near S3, a long is likely to fail, so donít get long there!

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Iíve also started tracking a series of metrics daily. These are the ones Iíve been mentioning in previous posts. They are sort of ďvolatilityĒ gauges or general ways to determine market health.

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The basic idea here is that each of these can indicate a volatile market. There are 13 metrics currently. If one of them ďgoes overĒ a specified threshold, I count it as volatile. (For instance, if the S&P is down 50 points, I consider it a volatile day). Then I add these up and divide by the number of metrics. If the rank < 33%, I consider it quiet, 33-66% Volatile, and 66+% ďvery volatileĒ.

This is definitely a work in progress and Iím not going to implement it into my trading plan yet, but I think itís a better measure than just looking at VIX, which is what Iím doing now.

Itís also interesting because itís dynamic, and potentially I could write a program to automatically update these real time.

Speaking of which, I also though: why do I need to sit around to test these pivot levels? With a dead market, Iíve got to do *something*. So I started playing with Metratrader (AMP has a free version for windows). And itís amazing as it easily connected and there is market data present.

Iíve played with MT4 before (this is MT5) so things are a bit different, but nothing seems insurmountable. Iím currently working on pivot code. My plan here is that if something is backtestable, I might as well go ahead and do that instead of manually trading. But manual trading is also important, because unless Iím planning on actually executing this with an EA (Iím not), execution context is also important.

On the education front:

I took a quick skim of both John Carter and Sam Seiden.

John Carter has more setups that look interesting. Iíve decided to put them all into a doc:

I think the way going forward with setups will be to test manually for 5-10 trades, then backtest, and if that looks promising, then start demo trading until 25 trades. I think my process kind of sucks right now because I have to spend a month figuring out if setup works, and then I quickly realize it doesnít, why it doesnít, and modify it for a variant. Although this detailed contact with the setup provides a lot of great information it causes me to ďreset all of my data.Ē It would be nice to be able to modify + see feedback immediately, and Iím hoping this is what will happen with metatrader/backtesting.

RE: Sam Seiden, he has some interesting things to say. I havenít been through the full 150 pages of the ď5 yearsĒ doc but the point is well taken: institutions buy wholesale, and sell retail. Traditional TA Indicators (like MA, stochastics, RSI, etc) do the opposite (buying high, selling low). Of course. Now the next question is: how do I create setups from that and take advantage of that intraday? Also, I have the impression that most institutions donít day trade, they swing trade. Look at the goldman sachs reading list. No day trading on there. Also after watching some videos with Anton Kreil and his trading buddies, I get the impression that most donít day trade - which makes sense - itís hard to day trade lots and lots of money (aside from hedging, etc). So TBD for now. There are probably setups that could be tested, but Iíll just put it on the back burner to gain greater focus.

Iíve got a whole list of books and courses Iíd love to go through. Iím halfway tempted to go on a book buying spree (or course buying spree). But I also donít know how much this will help me develop and sort of think iterating on what Iíve got instead of acquiring new info will be more helpful for the time being.

A non trading book that Iíve been reading is ďThe Path of Least Resistance.Ē This is a really interesting book about creating change in your life, and how a lot of self help stuff doesnít work by creating false change (that works temporarily). One concept in it is that things change only when there is first tension involved, which eventually leads to resolution. I think a key for me will be to resolving this tension in a productive way (developing setups and backtesting in metatrader) vs. in a ďnegative wayĒ aka buying more books that provide zero actionable advice.

Swing Trading:

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The FIT trade is still working, although FIT has mostly rallied back to my selling point. GRMN has rising though. Iím sort of holding my breath on this one.

I initiated another trade - long Grocery outlet, short sprouts markets. Idea here is that times will get bad, people will still want name brands and wonít want to spend premium amounts on groceries. Holding my breath on this one, too, and havenít liked the price action since I initiated the starter position. Will cut at $200 loss if it gets there.

Next Week:

* Trade as per trading plan (manually)
** Holy grail in volatile markets
** Pivot plays in other markets
* Use metatrader to test Pivot Plays on 5 minute time frame
** Do this while waiting for setups
** Make sure to get at least one pivot play setup working!

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  #13 (permalink)
Oakland, CA
Trading Experience: Beginner
Platform: Jigsaw
Favorite Futures: US Treasuries Futures
Posts: 29 since Jun 2018
Thanks: 20 given, 30 received

Trade Review - September 8, 2019

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Small losing week. Took a few trades at start of week but VIX was decreasing throughout the week and my one setup seems to only work in volatile markets. Despite VIX being ďhighĒ on a few of the days, it was clear that the bond market wasnít in a huge trend (and really we saw a flight to risk-on assets this week contrary to what weíve been seeing the last few weeks with a flight to safety assets - gold and bonds). My custom indicators did a good job of suggesting that it would be low vol most days, so that was a major win.

Since Iím not up for the open, it was mostly choppiness. And this week illustrates why Iíve been slowly grinding down my account - when I win, I donít win big enough to compensate for these times when I lose (despite being small amounts). So itís a gradual grind-down of the account.

Still searching for edge, so thatís where most of my focus was this week.

This caused me to switch over to demo trading and strategy development after Tuesday.

Here are some accomplishments this week:

Updated Setup - Scott/Carter Pivot Points

I still like the John Carter Pivot point setup. I think itís fairly easy to follow, but have customized it a bit for my own use. (Only using one contract to reduce risk, donít trail stops). Still demo trading it (manually) but have high hopes for it.


Got basic MT5 (metatrader) EA working with a simple backtest of the scott/carter pivot point strategy. Iím still refining it as there seem to be some data issues involved (for instance, it only seems to be trading on Mondays and Tuesdays etc)

New Setup - Trapped Traders

The basic idea: market has sold off so much and has reached a maximum down swing. Now all of the short traders are trapped. Nothing new here, just need a way to absolutely qualify this + recognize it. Still developing the strategy.

Was able to trade it on demo on Thursday, although the trade didnít act the way I expected it to. It was not so much that short traders were trapped as short traders just stopped wanting to sell which led to a rise in price. But either way, the trade seems like it would work well. I think thereís probably some power to these sorts of setups.

This also led me to investigate Lance Biggs, so still looking at his YTC price trading manual for ideas.

New Setup - Level Reversion

A really basic setup that just fades levels. Can fade any pivot points, half pivot points, or manually determined S+R levels. The idea is that this is a good trade only for those dead days when vol is really low, and especially for those days before a news event / holiday. I think it will also be a good night time setup.

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More on Pivot Points and Indicator based trading, and my progression

I also went ahead and bought ďSecrets of a Pivot BossĒ (the book), which several people seem to recommend.

Iím not seeing pivots as a holy grail, but definitely a key tool in my arsenal. Iím increasingly viewing indicator based trading as a good means for ďcontinuationĒ type trades, but pretty bad for those types of trades that are all about testing levels (mean reversion). Often the indicator is just too late to the party - which is OK when volatility is high and you expect another move in the same direction. OTOH, itís terrible when you expect price to move back to where it came from as iit gets you in right when the pivot based players are getting out.

One book that Iíve wanted to get for a while is Wells Wilderís ďNew Concepts in Technical Trading SystemsĒ. I know thereís nothing ďnewĒ in there (RSI, etc), but I think there are keys in there as to how a master thinks about trading technically. I think that one could customize one of these indicators to provide some edge, but only on larger time frames.

Volatility Indicator

Going to defer changing my setups for now to use my new volatility indicator. I think I need more time to see it in different volatility environments to get a sense of how good it is. But for now, Iíll continue watching it daily.

For next week:
  • Trade Holy grail only in VIX > 20 environment
  • Continue trading manually new setups
  • MT5 - get pivot point backtest working. Qualify it with:
  • Only trade at the right times (8AM - 12PM pacific)
  • Close trades at end of trading day (1PM)
  • Make sure it trades every weekday
  • Make sure it properly reverses when stopped out
  • Read YTC Bk 2
  • Read / Skim Pivot Boss Book for Ideas

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  #14 (permalink)
Oakland, CA
Trading Experience: Beginner
Platform: Jigsaw
Favorite Futures: US Treasuries Futures
Posts: 29 since Jun 2018
Thanks: 20 given, 30 received

September 15, 2019

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Tough week this week. Spent the early part of the week demo trading. Then got excited as the ďLevel ReversionĒ trade setup that was working overnight and had 25 instances. Later in the week, had the Scott/Carter trade setup work as well (these numbers are week end so it was looking better when I was demo trading):

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Traded the level reversion on Tuesday night. Little did I realize it was 9/11 and there was little volatility in the market. So effectively I was getting in right in the middle of the volume profile and getting chopped up consistently.

At the end of Wednesday, I had enough trades to go live with my modified Scott/Carter strategy, which I did on Thursday. Had one winner on Thursday and a couple of losers on Friday - just by one tick! Got short on Friday but got stopped out later in the afternoon, then reversed according to the strategy.

Takeaways from this week:

I have two more setups that look mildly profitable, but only mildly so.

Strategy 1: The Level/Reversion setup is probably a losing strategy in all but the quietest of markets. Itís basically fading pivot levels in super quiet markets. I was demo trading this both during quiet days and night time.

One appealing thing of this strategy is how often it happens, so itís easy to get lots of demo data about it. OTOH, it only seems to work in the quietest of environments (pre-holidays).

Also, two things I need to watch out for: 1) the existing volume profile range - something I want to incorporate into my trading - and 2) expanding / contracting pivot ranges (more on this later).

Strategy 2: Scott/Carter Pivot Point Only three trades so still TBD. The one thing live that I noticed on Friday was that I could use volatility based stops instead of fixed stops. But I think 4 ticks of risk is all I want to risk for now (with my tiny account) so happy to keep these stops in place. Plus, Iíd like more data before I modify the strategy (although this does provide an avenue I could go down if the strategy isnít working).

Some other things Iíve been working on this last week:

I also worked on the MT5 code at the start of the week but still need to modify it for the right time of day, plus do more checking on it.

My volatility measures: Iíve realized VIX isnít a great proxy for volatility, yet Iím still basing my setups off it. Iíve created a better measure of market volatility - but this is overall (cross-market) volatility, not just bond volatility. And these are handy numbers to have (how volatile is the world?) but itís not the best proxy for bond volatility (for instance, we could have a risk-on market but not have a huge run up in ES AND a major reduction in VIX, but COULD have a big bond market move down - which is what happened Thur + Friday).

So basically:
VIX doesnít work because when it drastically drops, the bond market would be very volatile. This suggests change in VIX would be more interesting than VIX per-se
Also, VIX only really measures ES option volatility / fear, not bond market fear.
And overall cross-market fear isnít really a good proxy for volatility in the bond market (it is when there is fear in the market, but the bond market can have major moves when sentiment switches from risk-off to risk-on)

So Iím exploring keeping my main measures of volatility intact but adding a more specific bond one (which may be as simple as average daily ATR vs. todayís range, possibly waited hourly) or possibly adding pivot level breaks, pivot level expansion/contraction, etc.

Some other things Iím thinking about come about from reading ďSecrets of a Pivot BossĒ which really has been a great book so far. Iíve been looking a bit a Camarellia equations but they donít seem to fit great for this bond market. BUT - I have found some value in (market) profile ranges, volume profile, etc. Still reading the book so trying to figure out how to incorporate this into my trading.

Also, all of my spread trades have gone against me, and Iíve closed all but one of them. I think they were all correlated with market fear and trade tensions. GRMN had a huge run up but FIT even more so. My spread buying has been a classic case of buying high + selling low = losing money. Itís not my main focus and is honestly distracting, so Iíll probably stay way from doing more spread trading for now...

I also started reading YTC. Clearly there is some overlap between him, pivot levels, and sam seibold. But Iíve realized I canít read long docs like that without underlining + writing / summarizing them so Iíve sent Vol 2 off to the printers (

Next week Iíll be gone on a family trip so will have a shortened trading week.

For next week:
  • Trade with Scott/Carter strategy live, no matter what the volatility is (although make sure itís not an ďinsideĒ day).
  • Allow trading with holy grail/pullback strategy if volatility explodes (and VIX >= 20)
  • Finish Pivot Boss Book
  • Read Mark Fisher Book
  • Consider how to if/how to incorporate the following:
    • Types of Day Types
      • Informed by volatility Levels
      • How to identify these early in day?
      • What are the day types I see in the market?
    • Modified Volatility Info for bond market vs. general market volatility/chaos
    • Market/Volume Profile Info
      • Initial Balance
      • VAH
      • VAL
      • POC
      • VPOC
    • Previous High/Low + relationship to current price
      • In Range, In Value
      • Out of Range
      • In Range, out of Value
    • Central Pivot Range / ORB (need to learn more about this)
    • ďVirginĒ Levels
    • Other things from the book?
  • Close out remaining spread trades

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