Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Self-Talk And Edge.

Excerpt from "Trading For A Living" (Dr Alexander Elder):

"Dr. Shapiro describes a test that shows how people conduct business involving a chance. First, a group of people are given a choice: a 75 percent chance to win $1000 with a 25 percent chance of getting nothing-or a sure $700. Four out of five subjects take the second choice, even after it is explained to them that the first choice leads to a $750 gain over time", (!?!...lol), "The majority makes the emotional decision and settles for a smaller gain."

My knee-jerk reaction was to go with option 2...I made the same choice as the 80% majority! Of course, after I actually used my brain, it was obvious to me that option 1 would be most profitable over time (not made clear in the text, but I'm assuming that's what was meant).

So how do we avoid these edge-blunting, emotional decisions?? My answer is Positive Affirmations, specifically related to the ideas of edge, probabilities and trading in general.

Some of the leading questions I've been asking myself in the 2nd person (...all a bit weird!):

"Is the fear of allowing this profit to become a loss greater than the fear of skewing the risk to reward ratio by not staying in the trade until target?" (When considering emotion-based exits).

"Can you risk losing money when correct about the market direction if that puts the probabilities more firmly on your side over the long haul?" (When thinking it's safer to keep a wider stop, despite actually losing money by doing so)

"Do you have a statistically proven edge? If so, why would you get angry/upset about any influence luck has had on any series of trades??" (When getting stressed out over missed trades, being stopped to the tick etc)

One of my favourite general affirmations is:

"Fear of pulling the trigger is warranted when you don't have an edge...fear of NOT pulling the trigger is necessary when you have one"

These are examples of the crazy things I've been telling myself any time I consider deviating from the plan. They are tailor-made for my particular difficulties.

It's had an enormous affect on my results :D

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Autumn (for everybody apart from UF, that's "Fall" *attempt at american accent* to you!) is here. With it comes the alleged volatility that makes successful traders more profitable and, I guess, the less successful even less so...

While going through my the past couple of weeks of data (not including this week), I'm noticing that my winners (always scaling out...all-in to begin with) are becoming smaller relative to the all-in, all-out distance that those winners run for. The average win divided by the average distance gives me 51%, meaning on a, say 6R market move I can expect to typically get 3R from it, using my method of scaling out at various s/r.

This week that's now become 39% (after 19 trades...same relative frequency of trades as prior weeks). I'm also seeing more small wins/losses with a Maximum Favourable Excursion,MAE's cousin, of 200%+...this tells me that the market, at least on the level I'm interacting with it, is choppy.

I'm struggling compared to last week but have made the necessary scaling out adjustments (taking off in thirds/more at the 1st target etc)to right the ship. Currently, I'm up for the week...

Most importantly, I am enjoying the opportunity to practice adapting myself and my strategy to the ever-changing ebbs and flows of the market.