Edwin Lefèvre: Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (A Marketplace Book)
One year after my venture into trying to trade for a living, I realized that trading was a lot more about psychology than having the "holy grail" of a trading system. Albeit, you need to have some kind of system to base your trade entries. But it's evident that even with a 50% win ratio, you can make money while trading.
Heck, some people are making money even with a 40% win ratio.
It took me awhile to accept that there was magic in practicing good risk management. Heck, it took me at least a year and half into trading before I really understood how to put it in practice.
The philosophy behind risk management is easy. Actually it's downright simple, here's two examples:
- If you decide to go with a risk/reward ration of 1.5 to 1. You basically try to hold out for a $15 win for every $10 risked. (I often wonder why we say risk/reward and then mention the ratios the other way around.....but I digress)
- Don't risk more than 2% or 1% of your total account on any one trade
What throws a spanner or a monkey wrench in the works, is plain old human "psychology". And that means all that stuff that goes on in your brain when you take a trade. And all that stuff that goes on in your brain, when you are NOT trading.
I have had to learn a lot about how to control my impulses in trading. I still am working at it. My first lessons in trading were trading off multi-timeframe charts, but essentially scalping. Along the way, I picked up a lot of bad, bad, bad habits while scalping off short timeframe charts. Since I would like to stick with trading on the 1Min chart, I need to work at gouging out some of these bad habits.
Here's one really baaaad habit that I used to love to do. I think I may have conquered it:
Jumping back into a trade in the same direction after a quick win.
Ooooh, I used to "love" doing this. This is a really baaad one.
Here's the scenario:
Act 1, Scene 1: I would make a quick win on a very quick setup. And the currency starts to move again - in what seems like the same direction.
Act 1, Scene 2: I jump back into a trade, purely based on a very short term price action. Ignoring any indicator behavior. By now, I think I've figured out how the market will move. (Famous last words).
Act 2, Scene 1: Guess what happens: Yep, the currency hits a strong support/resistance point - and it starts to retrace.
Well - you get the picture.
Act 2, Scene 2: And where does it generally go, it's trying to go back to my stop. And more than not, I'm frozen like a deer in the headlights, and I lose double my stop loss. Sounds familiar now?
Act 3, Final Act: Boom goes a one whole week's worth of profits! I slap myself in the face and tell myself not to do that again.
EURUSD M1 Jan17-2012
Trade 1 and Trade 2 were basically good entries. Trade 1 was a really bad exit because I moved my stop. It was a classic deer in the headlights situation. After I mentally recovered from Trade 1, I took another counter-trend trade (Trade 2). This time the exits were better.
Trade 3: Out of sheer frustration, I jumped into this one. I was quickly stopped out.
So after 3 failed trades with multiple contracts, I decided to just forget about the day and take a break. At this point, I have drawn down all of last week's profits. I distinctly remember telling myself - too darn bad. Sometimes you are just out of sync. I wasn't even going to wait around to take another trade.
After dinner, and a one and half hour break. I decided to look for a possible setup, just after the US session open. By now, the Bossilator on $EURUSD on 1M was at 800! This is serious counter-trend potential.
So I went ahead and took Trade 4. This went better. So I quickly added 1 more contract to the trade.
It was a good superfast trade. I exited just before SMA800 at a nice 3:1 with 30pips. But if I had waited 5 or 6 more candles, I could have exited with another 10pips! But I didn't want to wait. $EURUSD kept moving down and I was still about 20pips down from the earlier losses. And I was not in that trade.
And now, drum roll please; I just walked away from MT4. I didn't try to jump back in. Even though it kept going down and went down to the Daily Pivot - another 25pips further down.
Second drum roll - yes, I didn't jump back into a trade!!! Yup, and this is the second time this week that I didn't jump back in.
I really feel like I may give this nasty habit the boot! It may be a bit premature to celebrate.
But hey, you just gotta celebrate every little success that you have. And work on it one trade at a time....