I am aware that there are several Combine Journals in the Elite section, but since I am not an Elite member (I am still deciding how long I will stick around), thus I can't read them. The purpose of this thread is to post your Combine results and to share certain tricks and tips that can make it easier to fulfill the requirements. If this is the wrong forum, please move it to the appropriate one.
I am not affiliated with TST, actually I have my doubts about them, but regardless I am in the middle of my Combine, and I learnt a few tricks along the way, that I will share for future Combiners. If you have tips, don't hesitate to jump in and share. Again, this thread is not about the vendor, but the challenge itself and how to pass it.
I am not going to rehash the rules of the Combine, they are available on their website. Read them carefully, and when you are done, read them again.
So anyhow, I looked at this Combine as a mental challenge. The rules are what they are, I don't necessary like them, but since I can't change them (except the costume Combine) I figured I will alter my trading style so I can still be successful at it. So let's start before you start with the Combine:
1. Read the rules. Read them again. And again. There are way too many, but that is not excuse to blow your chances, just because you misread or forgot one. To understand the challenge is pretty much the start.
2. Get to know the platform. I first hated the T4 but now I kind of got used to it. NT is also available but buggy. Download it and practice on it, until you won't make mistakes based on unfamiliarity.
3. A free way to practice for the Combine is to try to pass it while you are in the practice mode. Chances are if you are not close to passing it while practicing, you are not going to make it in the real thing either. You can actually have more than just 2 weeks practice with a little ingenuity.
4. Assuming you understand the rules, and comfortable with the platform, strategize against the parameters. The hardest is the DLL (daily loss limit), if you hit this one, you are out of the game. Thus choosing the correct number of contracts is essential. My tactic was to decide that from the beginning I am going to use 1 contract only, and go up only when I have a safety pillow. So far it has worked, but I am behind the profit target.
5. Choose your Combine carefully. There are 8 of them, but they are not all equal. Based on the profit per car per day, there is one easy, 4 average and 3 harder. Alright, I will tell you, the easiest is the 30K/20 days, that's what I have chosen.
6. No matter what, you do have to have a profitable trading strategy. I guess you could just do random trades and get lucky for a few days, but most likely your luck will run out after 4-6 days. Not to mention the parameters.
7. You have to realize that there are actually 2 challenges:
A/ Passing the Combine by reaching the profit target and being good with most of the parameters.
B/ Getting a refund by finishing in the green and being good with some of the parameters.
Obviously B/ is easier and you can either ask for a refund or retry it. BUT!!! If you blow your DLL, you disqualify yourself from the refund, so you actually are going to lose money. And you have to still watch those parameters!
8. Decide what to trade. I would suggest to stick to 1 or 2 trading vehicle, because you have to qualify at each of them. Oil and nat. gas are obviously dangerous, but if you have a good system, that is where the quick money is at.
9. When to start. Since your time frame is given after you started, it is important to start at a favorable time. Before holidays and unpredictable events is obviously not a good time. Here is a tip: If you have a rather rare but high percentage event/strategy, it is smart to wait until that occurs and jump in and start your Combine that evening, thus you can start out with a possible decent winner.
10. Although you have to be flat 10 minutes before the close, you can still swing trade. You can trade in the AH, but the trades this evening will count for tomorrow's date.
So this is it for starters, in the next posts I will explain how I strategized and how I am doing in my Combine. My minimal goal is to at least get a refund, so if nothing else, it should be a free trading exercise....
Last edited by Pedro40; January 7th, 2013 at 07:57 PM.
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So from the beginning I decided I will take it safe and slow and if I qualify for the refund I am already happy. Then if I am still interested, I can retry later. Watching other people try (on another forum) I saw them blowing it by day 3-5th. It is easy to catch a good trade with the maximum contracts allowed, but sooner or later the daily loss limit (DLL)came and took them out of the game.
I like to simplify things, so instead of looking at Combine dollar numbers, I looked at them as ES points per car. For example the 30K/10 days Combine is making 10 points in 10 days with 1 contract while not losing more than 10 points a day. Sounds easy enough, but if you have a losing day, your needed average goes up.
4 of the Combines have the 1 point per day per car profit target, but the 30K/20day Combine is even easier, only 3/5th points per day per car. Thus I had my choice. Now using 3 cars, my DLL would be 3.5 points, that is rather easy to hit, then I am out of the game for the day if not for good. But if I use only 2 cars, the DLL goes up to 5 pts, and with 1 car, I have to lose 10 points before I have to stop for the day. Pretty safe if you ask me.
Before I go into details, I reached the halfway 10 days with $330 in profits, so I was behind the target (should have been 1K) but all the other parameters (except one) were fine. Again, I was using only 1 contract, trading ES. Nothing to write home about, but compared to the blown out guys, I was satisfied. I had only 2 losing days, one of them accidentally. I was looking at the wrong column (without commission) and the number was blue, so I stopped trading, and I only realized later that the commissions took it into the red. I had one serious losing day when I went against the trend and 3-4 losing trades took me close to the DLL, thus I had to stop.
So the first 10 days were 8 winners, 70% winning, but the losers were bigger than my winners. Basicly 5 winning days, 4 breakeven and 1 big loss. On 2 days I started out with a loss but was able to bring it back to the green.
Now here comes one trick how I manipulated the parameters: Trading duration. This parameter is useless because it is rather meaningless and it is easy to manipulate. My average winning duration was smaller than my average loss, so I did 2 things:
1. I threw in a few quick losers. It is a shame a trader has to do this just to meet the parameters, but it worked. Getting in a position and pretty much immediately out with a 1 tick loss brought down my average loss duration way below my winning duration.
2. Twice when I expected a non-eventful night, I traded overnight and stayed in the position for 2-3 hours. The profit wasn't important, I just needed a few longer trades to raise my winning duration.
I accidentally got into positions twice, because I forgot to cancel the order, one winner and one loser, so they cancel each other.
So when I reached halfway, I missed the profit target (well half of it) but I qualified for the refund, so I met my minimal goal. For the second half I decided I will play 2 cars when I have built a little profit for the day....
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For the second half of my Combine, I only needed to make $170 per day, so this was comparable to the 30K/10days Combine. That is only slightly more than 1 point per day using 3 cars. My main mistake has been not letting my winners run long enough and several times missing trades when everything was there.
Today I have just finished my 14th day. The last 4 days were all winners although 1 was just breakeven. I could have done the needed $200 without using more than 1 car, but I missed a few trades. In fact I am still using 1 contract, except once:
Today I went long at 53 and although I saw that it might tick down to 51, I left it on. Then I averaged in with a second car. At 52 I wanted to take off the second car as a winner, so I changed its limit order and it got hit. Nevertheless T4 took it as I closed the first car, thus it went in as a loss and in the trading duration I ended up with a rather long 45 minutes loser. So here I had to use my old trick and later I threw in 2 intentional quick losers, thus the average came down to 15 minutes. My allover average winner duration is still 4 minutes longer than the average loss.
I am up $700, again, nothing exciting, although 2 ES per day per car, but had I used 3 cars all the time, this would be 2100$, over the required 2K, although I would have hit my DLL on that down day...
So I still have 6 days to make $1300 and actually plenty of time until February, so I could cherry pick favorable days, but probably I will just go ahead and finish it.
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I'm willing to risk the future of my Big Mike's Trading Forum Membership and respond to this thread.
This is the most absolute nonsense I've seen written on this forum ever. Pardon me but if I was looking for a trader to trade a $30,000.00 account and I was willing to absorb ALL the LOSS and STILL split the profits 60/40 I wouldn't want you any where near a live trading account.
It appears you're having a lot of fun toying around with what I believe is a very serious and very powerful business model designed not only to evaluate seasoned traders but also provide a safe learning environment for aspiring traders, complete with professional traders available for training and coaching as well as professionals in market psychology.
Obviously many participants enter today's markets for the wrong reasons, but to actually PAY MONEY and sign up for a Top Step Trader Combine with a preconceived intention of gaming the system is absolutely ridiculous.
I hope you come to a place in the very near future where you can see the child like foolishness of your behavior and stop wasting the time, efforts and resources of honest professionals who are totally committed to providing what may be a life changing opportunity to men and women who actually know how to trade.
Last edited by Cashish; January 8th, 2013 at 12:05 AM.
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I would like to say Hi to the first responder to my very first post on BigMike. How are we doin'?
Now calling something nonsense is good, backing it up with examples and logical argument is better.
That is alright, you are not the backer. Now this part of topic does belong to a different thread, but why TST advertising to complete newbies? See? When you answer that, you might better understand their business model.
But as I said this thread is not about them.
Maybe so, but is that a problem? I can use the Combine whatever way I want and like, as far as I paid for it, they don't care and if they don't want to offer me anything, that is perfectly fine...
I didn't say I haven't learnt anything. So I think I am using the Combine for the right reason. Also, have you ever heard of a personal challenge?
First what I waste my money, is my business. Second it is not a waste if I learn something or enjoy myself. Third, strategizing according the rules is not gaming the system. Counting cards is a perfectly legal (although frowned upon by the casinos) and valid method to gain advantage in black jack. reading your opponent in poker is also a perfectly valid and legal method.
As I mentioned in earlier post, I don't like some of the Combine's rules, but they are what they are. I can't change them. If you want to play the game, you have to follow the rules. I never mentioned anywhere any rule breaking (except maybe the extended trial period).
Several Combiners make the required profit but can't pass the parameters. This thread is for them and I think the list before starting the Combine is very useful, completely by the rules, not to mention just plain common sense.
So if you have a moral problem with this thread, just don't contribute to it, I guess it is not for you. It is for would be Combiners, who want to make the best of their efforts...
Otherwise thanks for the first response...
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While you may have read the rules carefully, it appears that you have missed one of the most important. Namely, that you CAN submit a request for a customized combine and eliminate the requirement to meet Avg Time in Winners > Avg Time in Losers.. I know of other combine participants who have done exactly this.
Rather than taking offense with the poster's opinion, one I actually agree with, why not just thank him for his opinion and move on. The points you make "to help other comibiners" are so blatantly obvious that anyone seriously doing a combine would have no trouble "figuring out how to get their stats adjusted if need be" near the end of their combine.
Personally, I would be more interested in what you have learned that relates to trading and how it has helped or hindered your progress as a trader, rather than as a "gamer" of the system.
Could luck with your combine.
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I am aware of costume Combines. But if you eliminate/change one parameter they make harder another one, most likely the profit target. Since most of the others were doing the offered Combines, I wanted to do the same.
Maybe in the future I will try that....
He was moralizing, not criticizing my advices. Now I could debate TST forever, but this thread is not about them...
Then you must be a smart guy. On the other forum people were blowing their Combines left and right, so I didn't assume it was that obvious. Right now, I know the results of 6 Combiners from there, and my meager results beats theirs.
(Again, I can't read the Journals here in the Elite section.)
Oh a good advice: You have to keep adjusting and manipulating the stats during the whole Combine, not just in the last 2 days. Let's say the duration is bad, and you have 100 trades in the last 18 days. That is pretty hard to fix (unless you throw in 20-30 losers, but that messes up other stats) in the last days. You have to keep an eye on them during the whole process, otherwise you can end up eventually screwing the parameters in the last day....
Well, I guess what I already knew. My patience is not the best. Basicly sitting on winners wins the game. Now of course when I tried to sit on winners then the market got stuck in a narrow range, and when I got out early, the market moved.
Also, for me sometimes is the best just to set the OCO and leave so I am not tempted to second guess myself. The only disadvantage of this if the target price is missed by only a few ticks and the market turns.
I have 3 days left, I am up 2%, but way below the target price. I only used 2 cars once in the last days and that was a loser, so basicly backfired. At this point there is no point just playing with 1 contract, so the last 3 days I am going to swing it, although still watching the parameters. I guess I could pass the 30K/20 days Combine with even 1 car (with a few tries) I just need more self discipline....
Last edited by Pedro40; January 10th, 2013 at 05:59 PM.
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Do you meet the requirements for a refund deposit/rollover? If so, consider it an accomplishment and try again. The point of course is not to "swing it" but to become a better trader. Why not use the last 3 days to do just what you said you needed to do--develop more discipline?
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