Getting back in the saddle: 12 years and punching

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Georgii, Mar 1, 2021.

  1. Georgii


    A history

    In just a few months, it'll be 12 years since I've made my first cash trade in financial markets. It's way past that five year mark where everyone says you either make it or you don't. But to be fair these 12 years have also had a lot of breaks in between, it hasn't exactly been the Gladwell 10,000 hrs. I'd give things a go for a few months, have some success, then inevitably something would go amiss and I'd take a “sabbatical”, anywhere from three months to a year in length. But I never threw in the towel for good. My money sat in my account in this or that brokerage, being chomped at by minimum platform fees, because I wanted to give it another shot.

    My path

    I've traded it all: stocks, futures, FX, options. I've done intraday and swing.

    I've read many books/web courses, read this and other forums regularly, been a part of a trading group (the latter was by far the most rewarding). I was foolish enough to try a “trader tryout” a few times. I've been to a Trader's Expo, the main value of which is great dramatic material if I ever wanted to write a play about trading.

    Fortunately I was never stupid enough to pay someone to "train me" how to trade or go to the deposit shops for stocks. I never plunged and blew my last savings. My key expense has been time, not money.

    Since I've started at this, markets have gotten cheaper and easier to access. Micro futures are awesome. Some stock brokerages offer commission free trading if you have enough for a PDT account. No more wickedly expensive platform fees.

    But some things have never changed: the desperados, gamblers, and socially challenged who expect trading to be their panacea. The snake oil peddlers and gurus who profit off the former. The brokerages who want to take a slice in the middle regardless of who is making or losing money (the most respectable of the lot). And the big government bosses who are always looking for a way to "protect the investor" by coming up with stupid rules like PDT that enable shysters like deposit shops to exist.

    When to give up?

    Had plenty of time to ask myself if I wanted to keep doing this or spend my time more profitably elsewhere.

    I guess it is how it is with many other activities in life: if the opportunity cost isn't too high and you want to succeed at it badly enough, why not. Right now that's the case with me. It may not be tomorrow or a year from now. So while it's there, I'm doing it.


    I've tempered my expectations. I'm gone fantasizing about Larry Williams' style feats of turning $10K into $1MM in a year. It's all about having a positive edge in markets and leveraging up intelligently. If I can do that over the course of time and endure the drawdowns while managing my emotions and keeping focused on how to solve the problem, I've succeeded. Money comes and goes. Market edges come and go. With this pandemic, enough people are lucky to simply be alive, and I'm lucky to be here to play another day.

    The point of this journal is to share my thoughts and give myself some accountability. Having been on and off these forums for many years, I know how many arrogant people post stupid things. I know how many vendors try to offer me the missing link to it all. I know there's a lot of 'blind leading the blind', and the latter I've even done myself at times. I expect all these things, but if it gets too much to handle I'm moving elsewhere. I'll engage with anyone who is intelligent and respectful (and profitable is not something I can figure out, nor does it matter). I know those people exist here.

    I'm not going to immediately start posting trades or market analysis. Right now my goal is to start getting back into the swing of things. It's been a few months since I've looked at an intraday chart, so I want to start with a discussion of markets and approaches.

    Markets and Strategy

    Intraday, stock index futures/ETFs. We'll take it from there.
  2. Overnight


    Gratz for sticking with it. I have not been trading for as long as you have, but I have noticed, as I am sure you have, that these past few years and especially this past year, has seen some damned crazily huge swings.

    So give yourself and your trades a wide berth. Today is a great example on the indices, and CL/RB/HO complex.
    Georgii likes this.
  3. Georgii


    Agreed, volatility has been pretty intense as of late, we're fortunate. I remember back in 2013 after the Euro crisis died down, it was very slim pickings and I really had a hard time.
  4. Georgii


    Strategy, strategy, strategy

    I know that's what everyone likes to talk about, and I get it. But it's such a difficult thing to communicate. Because no matter what, every trader will see the market a bit differently. We all use our own tools, and even if they're the same tools we can use them differently. I'll never forget one of the first videos I saw was a guy saying that trendlines are drawn "from close to close". Well, maybe it worked for him...

    I'll have more to say on this, but here are just some observations I've made over time.

    Indicators vs "Price Action"

    I went through the extremes: indicatoritis and then naked charts. Naked charts were always more interesting to me because it somehow felt like I wasn't one of those suckers at Traders Expo lining up to get "free indicators" on a CD ROM (in exchange for signing up for someone's BS course at $900 a pop). Now it's a mix. Indicators have no magic, but if they help me see something better I figure they're adding some value. Even if it's just reframing the same information in a different way. But they mean nothing more than what a trendline means. It's a way to measure, just like a laser level. It won't make your edges straight, that's your job. But it can help you see.

    Intraday vs Swing

    Timing wise I've focused most of my efforts on intraday trading. Intraday trading sucks for one big reason: screen time during the prime business hours on the east coast. Anyone who runs a business knows that we're a 9 to 5 society, and so is the NYSE where, let's face it, the liquidity is. It's pretty rare Asia gives good moves outside of volatile times, and I'm done getting up at 2 am to trade Europe and living with biphasic sleep.

    Swing trading is pitched as the big promise for the 9-5 crowd. Just an hour at night to scan the charts and put in your orders, and you're done. Bullfeathers. First of all, most people end up managing their trades throughout the day anyway. Second of all, correlation. Since daily charts are going to by definition have way less setups than your two minute S&P chart, you gotta spread the basket far and wide amidst stocks and preferably other asset classes like FX and commodities (have fun on those lock limit days!). But then you realize there's this thing called correlation, and that most of your stock trades are simply going to trade with the beta that day.

    People make money doing both, so who am I to argue. But I've already wired my brain for intraday trading.

    I've also realized that most of the moves usually happen in the first few hours of the day when the Europeans are at the table. So there's no need to sit there at 3 pm. Yes, that means I might walk out on some trades, but I'm willing to leave up to 50% of my money on the table for the flexibility I get if I make 12 pm my quitting time. And no, I don't care about the big moves during FOMC. Not my kind of thing.

    So that's my solution to the intraday trading problem. It also prevents me from being locked behind a desk for 6.5 hrs a day. Unless I do a walking desk like Linus Torvalds...