Monday, August 22, 2016

How Much Does It Cost To Pass A Combine?

Below is a breakdown of the total (fiscal) cost incurred to develop myself to the point of passing a Combine.

Things to note as you read through the data:

* Figures in bold that aren't underlined represent the monthly fee for the Combine- commas separate the months. E.g Two bold, non-underlined figures means the Combine lasted at least two months.

* Figures in bold that ARE underlined represent "account resets"- where rules were broken/limits were surpassed and the account was reset.

* The (mostly negative) figures after the backslash is the amount of profit/loss shown on each Combine account when it was closed/reset.

* Some Combines were paid for with "Ticks"- TST's currency that was paid out to people who participated in the "Community Journal" and in the "Squawk" chat room. (They've stopped offering Combines for ticks now).

* The monthly fee varies as I changed account size.

* Finally, the total cost is shown at the end in bold along with the total P&L of all the accounts...shown after the backslash.



1) 20-DAY Combine. Completed 09/07/14= ??? (~$300) (NO RECORDS) /-$5370

2) Combine. Completed 31/03/15= $279, $279, $100/ -$3280

3) 10-DAY Combine. Completed 18/05/15= $FREE (Ticks)/ +$552

4) Combine. Completed 13/05/15= $325/ -$2801

5) Combine. Completed 15/06/15= $150, $100/ -$1548

6) 10-DAY Combine. Completed 15/06/15= $FREE (Ticks)/ -$1594

7) 10-DAY Combine. Completed 23/07/15= $FREE (Ticks)/ -$288

8) Combine. Completed 24/08/15= $150, $150/ -$272

9) 10-DAY Combine. Completed 11/09/15= $FREE (Ticks)/ -$137

10) Combine. Completed 01/10/15= $150, $100/ -$1513

11) 10-DAY Combine. Completed 30/10/15= $FREE (Ticks)/ +$294

12) Combine. Completed 31/10/15= $150, $100/ -$1184

13) Combine. Completed 20/11/15= $150, $100/ -$1510

14) Combine. Completed 11/03/16= $150, $150, $150/ -$1133

15) (Combine. Completed 30/05/16= $100, $100, $100- Patient Pigeon Account.)/ -$240

16) Combine. PASSED 20/08/16= $150, $150, $150/ +1508

TOTAL COST: $3783/ -18,516


For those who want to follow my Equity Curve journey, that post is in the "featured post" section at the top right of the blog. This will save having to scroll back to find it :)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Combine PASSED!

After 2 years and many attempts, I've finally managed to pass TopstepTrader's $30K Combine!

The entire Combine lasted 57 trading days and 260 trades were taken. The vast majority of these trades were made across 4 instruments: 6A (Aus/Usd futures), 6B (Gbp/Usd), 6C (Cad/Usd) and YM (Dow Jones). 5 trades were taken in the ES (S&Ps) and 1 lone trade in CL (Crude futures).

A tightened up the strategy by making things more statistical and objective using the lessons learned  that I covered in this post. This change occurred 9 days into the Combine and is what I consider the beginning of orderly, rules-based trading within the entire data set.

The results after statistics were applied to the method.

The hardest part of achieving this result was giving up control. I used various techniques to help manage myself along the way, which I'll talk about in a future post.The range of emotions experienced were sometimes very hard to deal with, especially given the numerous stressors that have been present in my life over the last 12-18 months or so (births, deaths, financial difficulties, health and relationship...the list goes on and on).

I also met internal resistance when I reached the $1K mark and, then, when the finish line was in sight.

Next up: A post detailing the cost incurred to get to this point in my TST trading journey. Stay tuned :).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Running P&L In R

Keeping what I said regarding showing vs being firmly in mind, I've decided to share my running P&L with the trading blogosphere!

I've converted the chart from $$$ to risk units - this allows me to share the journey without the potential pressure of sharing the actual dollar gains/losses. Having said that, the usual caveat applies - if it messes with my ability to trade properly, it'll be gone quicker than cake at a Weight Watchers meeting!!

Reasons for doing this:

1)  During the years of following trading blogs, I only know of two that have consistently posted their P&L without conveniently skipping out periods of time (where anything could have happened!). This one  does so in points, while this one does so with $$$ and accompanying charts. I want to add an element of credibility to my posts so that people can verify how well the principles, spoken about in this blog, translate into real-world results.

2)  It's taken me a long time to begin to understand the nature of probability, variance etc. and how we need to fully understand our expectancy, the journey it can take us on, and adjust our expectations to be able to accept the journey without destroying the long-term edge. This curve will serve as a reminder for me when things look grim and as a reference for any future posts.

NOTE!: Friday 23rd September's result is not accurate as much bigger risks were taken to achieve the ~ -3R result in order to try to get above $0 in order to satisfy an FTP rule. I've normalized the result in order to not skew the curve but the result in actual risk taken would have been closer to zero.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

10-Year Trading Anniversary: What Has A Decade In The Markets Taught Me?

Today marks 10 years to the day that I set off on my journey into trading the markets by attending Day 1 of a 3-Day seminar.

It's also my birthday! I don't remember whether or not I had intentionally chosen that date to attend the course, but it's a cool bit of trivia that my trading anniversary coincides with my birthday....but I digress...

The course I attended introduced me to the basics (for a hefty price!) and touched on the psychological aspects of trading. The real learning began years later as I found myself trading a $50K account, of money I had borrowed from a bank, whilst trying to regain my composure after my first (8 trade) losing streak...

So, what has a decade of playing this crazy game taught me? 

I've Found The Holy Grail!! 

There is no technical holy grail... every system, approach and method will draw down. Oftentimes more than you'd expect. If ever there was a "holy grail", it'd be the ability to weather the storm until the method eventually picks up again- even after a 17-trade losing streak ;).

Embrace Losers

Let's pretend walking represented a positive trading edge. If the left leg represents losers and the right one represents winners, how far would you expect to get trying to walk on just the one (right) leg?? This is where being truthful with yourself comes in...the goal is to execute a process, with it's inherent losers, not reach for a certain positive outcome/run away from a negative outcome.

A good exercise for checking your resistance toward following a process rather than seeking an outcome is to take note of the thoughts running through your mind when you review some of your trades. If you start blaming yourself for the inevitable times where you are stopped to the tick, or you start looking for a way you could have exited sooner before giving back that 2R paper profit even though the method said that's what you should do...there is still mental progress to be made.

Let Go Of Control

We control nothing but our thoughts and our actions. I've lost count of the amount of times I've sat watching a trade, sometimes for hours, before falling into bed or going out for some much needed air and/or exercise. As if watching it made the difference. The "illusion of control" is one of the more costly cognitive biases as it expends our energy, completely in vain.

Mind The Gap!

I've written about this several times on the blog. Essentially, if we are able to take action at any moment during a trade, then we have no live edge. Every living thing/system relies on gaps to exist. This means we have to let go of control and have faith and trust in our plan over the long-term, almost ignoring what happens in the short-term.


In a nutshell, I've learnt that we have to be comfortably uncomfortable in order to make progress. Growth hurts, no pain no gain etc.

 I've focused on the trading aspects in this post but, truth be told, learning how to trade has influenced my life- the way I think and live- far more than it has my actual trading. Almost as if trading were a metaphor for life...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Trading Update + Lessons Learned

A lot has changed in the last five months.

In my last post, I mentioned the importance to me of letting go of ownership and the urge to show rather than be. The ramifications of thinking we own anything are huge, both in trading and in life, and I've touched on this subject a few times in this blog, such as here and here.

Remember the Momo? The pattern I've devoted some 8 years of my life to since the inception of this blog??
8 years of charts and notes devoted to the Momo- I have literally gigabytes of video reviews on HD too!
Well, I've let all of that go and completely changed my methodology.

Just because we are victims of the sunk cost effect, doesn't mean we have to continue to be victims! Letting go of the need to be the one in the driving seat (when I helped my partner with her Combine) allowed me to see things from a much more neutral perspective. I've now carried that perspective over to my actions, even when doing things "for me" or with things that "I own".

I'm no longer trying to scalp on a 15 sec chart (for the first time in years). I now use a 5 min. No more fear of trading in harmony with a larger chart. I now trust in the direction of the larger chart, even though I know that the trust will be frequently broken.

No trailing. No break-even trades. No tiny R:R trades.Gone are the days where I only trade 1 market....I now watch 4 markets and trade up to 3 of them at any given time....Not only have I let go of the method I invested so much time, effort and money in, I've pretty much changed every facet of my general approach to trading.


1) Large(r) stops and targets are best- I did a video on why here.

2) Trade with "If/Then" statements- Rather than "we'll see". Base these statements off of something you can quantify (objectively) not qualify (subjectively).

3) Be specific- "I'll buy near that support when I see a reversal candlestick" isn't enough. How do you define "near"? What exactly is a "reversal candlestick"?