Gap guides looked OK to good opening in the D-H zone. There was a lot of pre-market bullishness because of the better-than-expected jobs report. So I reduced my position size. The market opened with a 7pt gap, > 40% of the 5-day ATR which increases the risk of failure, so instead of risking 5pts to make 7pts I placed my entry 1pt above the open to risk 4pts to make 8pts. I actually picked the top of the market...for my stop...as it went right up to my stop to the tick, then turned around and and dropped 16pts, right through my gap fill target of 1164.50. I think someone up there really wants me to quit trading. This is getting ridiculous.
Can I ask you to run a NinjaTrader performance report for the last 2 to 4 weeks, and take a look at a few things?
What is your win percentage?
What is your win/loss dollar ratio?
If you look at your trading journal can you easily look to see if you are taking any non-gap trades? Isolate your gap and non-gap trades, now review each separately. Are there any discernible differences? Is one setup more fruitful than the other?
I know you really like MTG and recommend them. What about analyzing for these 2 to 4 weeks how many times you ignored MTG recommendation and what their result was vs. what your result was. Are you outperforming MTG, or are you underperforming them and therefor selectively choosing more losers than winners?
Last, if you do have non-gap setups, I would like to know if your trades are with the trend or against it, and how your trades stack up. If your journal keeps track of "with trend" and "counter trend" for each setup, it is easy to track. Otherwise, you need to first evaluate the dominate trend for each day/trade, then analyze if your trade was with or against it. The bottom line here is this: do you find that taking both with trend and counter trend trades to bear relatively the same performance values? The same win percentages and win/loss dollar ratio? Or do you find one vs the other to have a significant advantage?
I know that what I am proposing above is a couple hours of work. But it is my belief that you need to do this work and figure out where you stand. I've been there and recognize some of the comments and reactions. Psychology naturally plays a huge pat in this, but you also have to take ownership and responsibility for decisions you are making. The only way to know if those decisions are logic based or emotionally based are to analyze them like I've stated above, and let the numbers speak for themselves.
Enjoy your weekend!
Due to time constraints, please do not PM me if your question can be resolved or answered on the forum.
Need help? 1) Stop changing things. No new indicators, charts, or methods. Be consistent with what is in front of you first. 2) Start a journal and post to it daily with the trades you made to show your strengths and weaknesses. 3) Set goals for yourself to reach daily. Make them about how you trade, not how much money you make. 4) Accept responsibility for your actions. Stop looking elsewhere to explain away poor performance. 5) Where to start as a trader? Watch this webinar and read this thread for hundreds of questions and answers. 6) Help using the forum? Watch this video to learn general tips on using the site.
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The following user says Thank You to Big Mike for this post:
FWIW, I didn't start doing a LOT better in my personal trading till I STOPPED listening to other traders and taking THEIR recommendations -- i.e., your reliance too much possibly on MTG in order to find a trade. Just an observance in reading prior posts in your journal.
3/30 - I slept in a little late and rushed to my computer to see if there was a good gap setup and if I could get in it. There were pretty strong gap guide data, opening in the U-HC zone. I got filled a little after the open but just 1 tick lower than the open so I was virtually filled as if I shorted at the open. Since the gap was pretty small I went for an extended target. After taking some heat around consumer sentiment news at 7am I survived and got my target filled an hour later.
I'm trading much smaller sizes now, just 1 contract, to more conservatively preserve my capital and not take such an emotional hit when trades do fail. Unfortunately, that means it will take me longer to recover from previous losses but that's what I've decided to do and I guess I just have to add that to my tuition.
3/31 - Gap guide data was not compelling so didn't take a gap trade. Took some mental/SIM trades on ES, 6E and CL that all worked out, but of course it only makes pretend money. Still reading tape + volume confirmation. Some of my virtual trades are charted below.
4/1 - Gap guides were worse than yesterday. Fading up-gaps on the first of the month are riskier as the first of the month is usually bullish due to mutual fund inflows being put to work.
Took a CL scalp based on a climax up bar, then a high volume churn, followed by a high climax down bar that was also a volume spike. Set my target to 20 ticks, moved my stop to break-even once it hit my target but didn't fill me. Market came back to my entry and then blasted through my initial target just after that. Nice April Fools trade I guess. This was my first real-money trade on CL after watching it for quite a while.
I wrote this over the weekend in a Word doc but never got it posted. I might as well do so now.
Thanks Mike and Hapster for the encouragement and advice.
I think Mike's advice is very good. It will take some time and I started tracking my trades more diligently in January but got behind since then so I will have to update my score keeping. At least I have all of my trades posted here to refer to. I think itís especially important to consider if youíre trading with-trend or counter-trend.
As for reliance on MTG, I don't take their signals blindly. In fact, the guys that run the site don't want people to rely on their go/no-go signals. They want people to use their gap guides in whatever way they are most comfortable with and they like to backtest various setups during the day as the market is progressing. The reason that I like MTG is that their gap guides and system are the most thoroughly and broadly back tested system I've ever encountered. The three categories of market behavior they test (market conditions, chart patterns, and seasonality) give the system a lot of breadth. And the fact that they test 12 years of data give it depth.
The last trade I took last week, that failed by just one tick, was a trade I decided to make on my own and MTG did not take it, so I don't just follow them blindly. And even if I did follow them, I still take full responsibility for my trades. Some people in their chat room are complaining and whining about their performance this month but the MTG guys are very transparent about their results and their weaknesses, which is another reason why they advise people not to follow them blindly.
I know we always hear "follow your plan" and "be disciplined" but if your system (setups and money management) isnít profitable, following your plan and being disciplined doesn't do you much good except follow your plan to ruin in a disciplined manner. Also, I like trading the gap because it's a system I can follow before work, which fits my lifestyle. I believe following the MTG gap guides is very beneficial. Up until this months, the last 24 months, they've only had 1 month where they lost money (July 2009). However, they ended this March down for the month. I guess I can take solace that I'm not the only one struggling this month.
I think I am doing OK at being disciplined and am pretty good at following my plan, but it's hard to do if I don't have confidence in my system. MTG is the system I have the most confidence in currently. Listening to their intraday market analysis of whose stuck long/short, where the swing traders probably have their stops at, the importance of trading WRT highs and lows of yesterday and two days ago, and many more things we look at acts as a mentoring session for me as well. We also talk a lot about psychology, money management, expectations, trading as a business and many other important topics in the chat room as well. With that said, I am currently exploring, experimenting and developing others systems and signals to add to my arsenal but I'm not as confident in any of them yet as I am with MTG.
I recently finished reading Outliers: The Story of Success, and one of the major points of the book is that while examining people that are exceptionally successful at a craft, trade or skill like professional athletes, musicians, programmers, lawyers, etc., it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to reach an extraordinary level of performance. To achieve that many hours you were usually brought up doing that thing at a very early age, or you came from a culture that cultivated the skills and values necessary to excel at your craft. So, with that in mind many mornings when I donít like the gap setup Iíll still watch and follow the market, sometimes taking other setups but with smaller size. "Putting in screen time" is very beneficial and part of my 10,000 hour investment. Iím aware that very few people are actually successful at trading and to be successful at it takes focus and practice of a professional athlete to consistently win at trading. With that said, think of the great athletes that had incredibly unique and edge-seeking practice regimens. People like Jerry Rice, Lance Armstrong, Peyton Manning, and Kobe Bryant come to mind for me. These guys kill themselves and study the game incessantly to get an edge above and beyond what their peers would commit to doing. While pondering that you have to be that good to be a consistently profitable trader is daunting, perhaps even depressing, I donít think you have to be that good or that much better than everybody else. However, it is motivational to think about what it can often require to achieve an edge in the markets. Just look at the recent NY Times article about day traders: day trading is really hard.
Since I canít put in 6-7 hours a day of screen time because of my current job I have been looking at trading larger time frames as well, starting with hourly and daily charts. I have been dusting off my old options trading skills and started following stocks again and some option volatility strategies, primarily from Jeff Augen's recent works which I really like. Once I start taking trades in that arena Iíll start posting them here as well, though, since this is a "day trading" site itíd probably be considered off-topic.
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Monday 4/5 - Weak gap guides as the ES opened in the D-H zone so I didn't take a gap trade. Waited to see if anything interesting would happen with the home sales report at 7am but it was just like watching paint dry.
Oil had a big run-up pre-market. I saw a nice counter-trend reversal setup on CL due to large churn volume. The 6:10am bar was my signal to go short but I waited to get a little better fill at a higher price as I didn't think it would just run away to the short side. When my target was filled price was about 6-7 ticks away and suddenly jumped to my target then turned around. Freaky beast...