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Anybody heard of topsteptrader (review)
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Anybody heard of topsteptrader (review)

Boston, MA
Posts: 264 since Apr 2014

bobwest View Post
If you put your question to @Hoag (John Hoagland) here, he does check this thread and odds are good he will answer.

Specify his username, Hoag, with the @ so he will be notified.


Thank you for the suggestion bobwest. I realize there are many ways to get unanswered questions answered here, or through TST direct. But Big Mike's query was what we thought of the webinar, so that is the feedback I provided.

I feel that with a few modifications, TST might get a bit more interest from their webinars by folks who are new to this "line of work". Lord only know how many people lost interest after the first 15 mins. Nobody has an attention span these days. That's the basis of my feedback. :-)

Posts: 2,743 since May 2014
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Big Mike View Post
What did everyone think of the webinar? Mike

Somewhat interesting on the personal history and pits part and the two guys combined together make it more lively.

I have tried to understand TST to see if it is something I can recommend in good conscience to say beginner Colombian traders. My main concern is them developing very bad habits from complying with TST rules on the 30-50k combines especially. We have a lot of gifted minds here facing high entry barriers however though I could fund them myself, I can't be bothered managing them so I'm glad someone else is doing it. I accept that TST is a learning tool not a long term affair, impersonal natural selection however regarding the presentation...

I'm scratching my head a little to see how,within the 30-50k 2nd and beginner funded stage restrictions a trader might take the heat using profile delta divergence reading as John describes without being taken out soon enough? Its part of a larger picture but you need to be very competent and experienced to appreciate this I fear.

On one level swing trading techniques are being promoted (edit: or at least seems strongly implied), on another the compulsory news event exits & EOD exits make swing trading very messy. The boss says swing but the rules make less efficient scalps almost inevitable. Maybe he forgets the 1st stage combine is just a sales hook and TST traders cannot trade like he does on his personal accounts?

Worth the time to watch it though.

Last edited by Rory; September 4th, 2016 at 04:15 PM.
Posts: 2,743 since May 2014
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I'm preparing for my talk with Latin traders (mostly finance students) and I have a question I have open with TST but I have not got a clear answer yet. Hopefully later today but I must update someone.

It relates to Pro/Non-pro status when someone has a pre-existing, non-Pro brokerage account.

When funded can the two co-exist? I understand TST don't ask you to close existing accounts, they have confirmed that part.

If however you pay the Non-Pro $15-20 a month for the full CQG bundle + Tick etc. on your 'personal' account can you just pay the higher TST Rithmic Pro data fee as a separate matter?

Essentially does trading under contract for TST mean one is 'Pro' across the board and so one also needs to declare and pay higher Pro fees for what was a personal (e.g. NT Brokerage) account or not?

I know I kind of asked the same thing twice there just its a little tricky getting a clear picture

Last edited by Rory; September 14th, 2016 at 01:44 PM.
Boston, MA
Posts: 264 since Apr 2014

@Hoag Query...

On folks' TST journal pages, there seem to be commission + fee totals that are much lower than many other brokers.

Here's a simple example, lifted from a TST combine folk...

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Let's take Mar 24th as an example. He had 70 total contracts round trip, yes? Through my broker, 70 cts round-trip is an average of $4.30 per ct.

So that would be $301 in commish and fees, not $128.

At the rate posted in that screen shot, you guys are charging $1.83 per ct round-trip?

I guess the main question is how are those columns defined. In total contracts column, is that 70 single-sides/35 RT? Or 70 RT? The fees and commish, is that single-side or RT?

Do funded accounts through TST get these same rates as what is displayed in the combines? That's a huge discount!

Last edited by HoopyTrading; September 16th, 2016 at 10:55 PM.
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matthew28's Avatar
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Total contracts is total volume, not round turns. So it was 35 round turns not 70. The Combine round turn cost is $3.68. Their live cost is $3.88 for equities on the majority of their platforms. A couple of platforms have platform fees so their round turn cost is higher.
Details here for other products and platform costs.

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John Hoagland has left TopstepTrader.

We always appreciated John's willingness to spend time and share his knowledge, particularly in webinars on FIO. You will be missed, John, and I wish you well in your new journey!

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Boca Raton, FL
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My experience with TopStepTrader.

So, as many others, 3 months ago I decided to take a TopStepTrader challenge.

I passed a 30K combine, I think, on the 3rd attempt. I concentrated exclusively on trading /CL, not the easiest of the markets and developed my own little strategy influenced by the combine rules.
I realized eventually that to be consistent and to pass a combine trading /CL you need to trade max amount of allowed 3 contracts and NOT start with 1 contract and slowly build your equity: it will take you forever to reach the target.
If my 1st or 2nd trade of the day were successful, I booked about $150-200 (on 3 contracts it's much easier) and quit for the day, or quit after 2 losing trades. Eventually it worked and I passed.

Now, a lot of traders don't know but there's a 2nd little stage introduced by TopStepTrader before they fund you: a funded trader preparation phase. It seemed so easy to achieve: just $500 in PNL in 10 days or longer. However, there're two little insignificant details:

1. if you traded with 3 contracts before now you can start trading with only 2 contracts (it seems insignificant but I had to change the strategy. Here's an example on 2 contract entry, I reached my stop of $70, however if I traded 3, I would still be in the trade and eventually would've made $100 instead of loosing $70)

2. after 10 days of trading your account should be above $0. So if you made $300 in the first 5 days, and the next 5 days you lost $350, you are DONE. You failed the FTP stage. You won't be funded. You can go back to combine if you want. To be honest that rule is prominently specified in FTP preparation, I just overlooked it.
I thought FTP stage is just another combine with a min. of 10 days but this time with a smaller target. If instead of taking the FTP stage they asked me to do another combine with $1500 target and the same set of rules, I am sure I would've done it.

Here's a thought for TopStepTrader: give a trader who passed a combine a choice instead of going through FTP stage to do another similar combine with the same original rules and then fund him/her. You're interested in profitable traders, are you not? Unless of course you don't care.

All these things made me think:

1. Is TopStepTrader's business really finding profitable traders and fund them and then make 20% off of their PNL or is it more lucrative for them to keep running combines? After all, this FTP stage seems to be an artificial way to get rid of a potentially profitable trader. Why not make the trader repeat his previous successful run?
So they made $450 off of me in combine fees but potentially they would've made much more if I traded.

2. If they fund me with an ability to trade 3 contracts, I can fund myself with about 4K in my account to day trade 3 /CL contracts or 2K to trade 3 /ES or /6E contracts and keep all my profits and have trader's status (instead of employee's) for tax purposes.

3. If I trade with TopStepTrader and trade /6E, /CL, /ES I will have to pay 3 x $85 in data feed fees monthly instead of 3 x $5 for nonprofessional status.

4. Was it worth it? I think it was, I had to adjust my rules so they can fit the combine rules. I stared at the charts and price action on /CL for 3 months and eventually reached the target and understood how to do it and what works and what doesn't. It only cost me $450, perhaps, if I traded my own account 4K account I would've lost about 1K before I learnt and became profitable or stopped trading after loosing a predetermined amount: I don't have an issue to stop trading if a certain amount is lost.

I will update if and when I start trading my own account using what I learned while sim trading with TST.

Last edited by inpilna; November 29th, 2016 at 11:46 PM.
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inpilna View Post
I will update if and when I start trading my own account using what I learned while sim trading with TST.

Cool. Thanks for sharing the ups and the downs.

You might want to start a trading journal thread for your own trades.


Last edited by bobwest; November 30th, 2016 at 08:07 AM.
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you can trade or you can not trade that is the question

if you can... why would you go through all that b.s..start out backing you with 1500 to lose. lola and they charge you for data. if you need to play trader use sim.. seems unreal ..

North Carolina
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Posts: 644 since Nov 2011

I've monitored TST since shortly after inception. I continue to periodically review their offering to see if it might be something for myself. However, the terms have never really been very attractive in my opinion. As a vendor, also TST has offered some affiliate program but I didn't pursue that because I'm not convinced of the program and because I didn't think it would be worth much anyway.

My biggest problem with the program has always been the amount they fund traders with is rather trivial. The max DD is only 2x the daily loss limit for the 50k combine but not even 2x the daily loss limit for the higher combines. It seems pretty obvious that if the daily loss limit represents a realistic amount of risk that can be taken per day that the drawdown must be some higher multiple of the loss limit. And, I don't see why they even offer the higher combines when they only are willing to increase the max DD 50%. Beyond that, additions like FTP which seem like another possible way for them not to fund you and constant rule changes are a negative.

I will add that one time I did inquire one time about doing a custom combined. My terms were approved more or less. But, they did not offer any of the higher funding levels for the custom combines. And, so I did not pursue. I do think the custom combine was a step in right direction. I'm not sure whether or not it is still offered.

The other problem is that TST bills itself as a way to develop traders. But, it seems rather more likely that imposing so many constraints, starting so undercapitalized, etc would more likely lead to failure than success. Of course, that is not to imply that some constraints might help the developing or even already successful futures trader.

But, just if you turn the scenario on its head and someone came to me and told me they had 1k for me to risk per day in the markets and then told me they only had 2k total-- in any other scenario that'd be ridiculous. So, I don't see why so many people give TST a pass. And then with such a constrained starting position to put a time limit and a profit objective on top of that-- just doesn't seem serious in any way.

The big deal is that profit and risk are fairly strongly correlated among traders. The novice trader imagines that the great trader is able to profit without taking any risk. The reality is that the better traders take the same or more risk than the bad traders but they make better decisions overall which leads to profitability.

We shouldn't expect to hit our loss limit frequently. But, on the other hand if it that represents the true amount of maximum risk we can take then we should not hit it too infrequently either or else wouldn't be maximizing profit. There are any number of ways to estimate what a realistic DD level should be for a risk limit. I find 12x to be a reasonable guestimate. But, if you take the probability of hitting your max loss limit as 30% then over a trading month you have about an 80% (76.8%) chance of hitting the max DD limit. You can figure this using a runs calculator. Real life is worse because this assumes you are always make a profit on the days that you don't hit the loss limit or that they cumulatively cancel each other out. The calculation is 20 day trades, streak of length 2, loss probability 30%. You can search for "streak probability calculator" and find any number of such calculators on the web. An alternative method of calculating it, could be to create various random normal distributions but it still stands to reason that if you are going to be able to take a risk "near" the loss limit that the loss limit will be hit at some probability greater than zero.

The point is we know the MAX DD must be some multiple of the loss limit. But for the higher combines, it is not even 2x the loss limit. Even if you could do it then take the 100k combine, trade on a free simulator and put back the $325 per month into a savings account and you could start with more than total you are given in 10 months.

If I try to imagine what a realistic and serious TST type program might look like then I imagine it might look something like the following:

1. The max DD would be at least 6x the daily loss limit and could easily be justified much higher. That would translate to a 12k funding level for the 2k loss limit or 4x as much as they actually offer. Even this is a rather tight funding level. However, the premise would be that your loss limit would and risk would increase over time as you demonstrate capability.
2. The length of trader evaluation would probably be longer, more open ended, and not the same for every trader.
3. A super system might have to be developed to hedge the various positions. It would probably require that traders can trade from either side (long/short) depending on the overall position of the system. I.e. if the system says trade short you only can take short trades. Such a requirement should decrease the probability of luck being involved because the trader is forced to trade from a specified side of the market as dictated.
4. During the training period, a trader might have to profit from random sides of the market. But during the live phase, the side dictated would be determined based on overall/total exposure.

Last edited by tpredictor; January 3rd, 2017 at 10:02 PM.


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