Risk/reward is set in concrete. Nothing in trading, with the exception of the process, is set in stone. I have seen that stone sink many peoples trading careers. Risk/reward is as much of a filtering process as it is risk management. We look at market in terms of volatility, it keeps us out of slow times but it can dry up quickly. If it does we get out before the “reward”. If we see it expanding and everything lines up we will get out after the “reward”. We are always adjusting to the situation.
Every market move is a reason to trade. There are so many opportunities that there is no reason to create one. Once again, this is where the selection process comes in play. Staying on the sidelines is a trade. Being able to separate what happened from how you felt is important and makes it easier. Missing a move is part of being a trader, you can get over it now or later.
Traders take big risks. Bad traders take big risks. The difference between a retail and a professional is the professional trades bigger taking the same risk as the retail trader. That is in part because a professional sees more of the market and is flexible. They understand what they are comfortable risking and never get beyond that point with very limited exceptions. You cannot run away from the risk, it always reverts to the mean. But what you did before and when it does revert is the difference between profitable and unprofitable traders.
New traders may get lucky for awhile and bad traders may win big in the short term but in the long term the market gives every trader exactly what they have earned. While traders can win in the long term with many different types of robust trading methods a trader with no self control will not even survive long, they will not be able to make a plan and follow it, they will let fear and greed over take their mind and end up with large losses and the belief “trading is just too hard” but trading is not hard what is hard is self control, discipline, focus, and keeping the ego in check.
What a trader can control:
- Their entry.
- Their exit.
- Their trading plan.
- Their emotions.
- Their ego.
- Their method.
- Their position size.
- Whether to trade or not to trade.
- How much you are willing to risk per trade.
What a trader can not control.
- Market movements.
- The trend.
- Whip saws.
- Political decisions.
- News Headlines.
- Macro economics.
- Every other traders decisions.
- The future.
- The past.
One key to trading is to only focus on what you can control, do not worry and stress about what you can not control, and most importantly, be able to know the difference.
There is a big difference between bad traders and good traders, here is what I think separates one from the other:
- Bad traders continually have the desire to short the hottest stocks with the strongest momentum. What is their reasoning? “It can’t go any higher, this price is ridiculous.” Do they understand it is a bull market, no. Do they understand the technicals or fundamentals that are driving this stock? No. Bad traders just trade their beliefs good traders trade proven methods.
- Bad traders continually believe they have found the trade “That just can’t lose.” It is a sure thing. No doubt about it. They trade BIG, they trade a HUGE position size. Unfortunately the most obvious trades are usually the losing trades, so they lose, and lose big. Good traders divide out their trades so that no one trade has too big of an impact on their account. Good traders realize EVERY trade can win or lose so they plan a quick exit for if they are wrong.
- Bad traders do not do the proper homework before they begin to trade. Really Bad traders enter the markets with a mile of ego along with mud puddle deep understanding of what really works in trading. Bad traders have the belief that they are more clever than the markets and they can win based on their own intelligence. The problem is they do not do the homework of studying charts, trends, robust systems, winning methods, the right psychology for winning traders, risk/reward ratios, or the danger of the risk of ruin, or how the top performing stocks acted historically, and on and on. The good traders learn what it takes to succeed in trading, the complete story, while the bad traders learn some basics and think they are ready. They are wrong. The markets will show them.
- Bad traders make low probability trades, they are where the profits come from for the good traders. They go short in bull markets and long in bear markets. They sell naked puts on stocks collapsing into death spirals and sell calls on the best momentum stocks. They trade with big risks for small profits. They have a few small wins but some really huge losses. When they have a winner they take the profits quickly, but if they have a loser they let it run hoping that it will come back. They are the ones that lose the money, they are on the other side of the good traders trades.
- Bad traders want a good tip. They just want to be handed a winning system or a hot stock that just can’t lose. They do not even understand what all the talk of trading psychology and risk management is all about. They don’t need all that, they just want to make money. They just want the fish, they do not care about the fishing pole, bait, boat, or how to fish. Unfortunately they were to busy looking for that fish and didn’t understand the art of fishing, they will drown in the market ocean because they never learned how to swim themselves.
How do you feel when your trading position goes against you? Do you react instinctively or do you follow a specific plan of action? Here’s what Richard Dennis has to say about this issue: “When things go bad, traders shouldn’t stick their head in the sand and just hope it gets better. You should always have a worst-case point. The only choice should be to get out quicker. The worst mistake a trader can make is to miss a major profit opportunity. 95 percent of profits come from only 5 percent of the trades.” Ignoring issues will usually carry negative consequences in the future. Have a well-researched plan and execute it with focus!
There are young people in the market that are really bad traders and there is also old traders that are very good, but there are no old bad traders in the market because they went broke and gave up a long time ago.
You might be a bad trader if……….
…your primary method is to try to call tops and pick bottoms.
“Don’t try to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. It can’t be done except by liars.” -Bernard Baruch
You might be a bad trader if……….
…instead of benefiting from the 200 point run in Apple this year you actually lost money by fighting the trend.
“Cardinal Rule #1 is to sell short only during what you believe is a developing bear market, not a bull market.” -William O’Neil (more…)