Successful traders: what were the early days of starting out like?

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by garchbrooks, May 16, 2010.

  1. Just curious how some of you guys had it during the first year.
  2. My early days consisted of:
    - being excited about trading the markets everyday
    - pretty much losing money everyday
    - still maintaining excitement after reality set in that trading is a difficult trade -- pun intended
    - still having more losing days than winning days
    - got a nighttime telemarketing gig that I worked 6 days/week that was horrible but great motivation to work harder
    - excitement gradually morphed to questioning whether I had the ability to trade profitably
    - started having more and more positive days but not making much money at all on those days b/c of small share size but was making good trades
    - started realizing more and more what a good setup looked like
    - started becoming more consistent & raised share size a few notches
    - learned with more size winning trades are more profitable but the penalty for holding losers too long grows in conjunction with that larger share size
    - kept relearning the lesson not to hold on to, or add to a big loser and instead to just let it go and move on
    - eventually began to put together profitable months and dig out of my initial hole
    - got promoted at the telemarketing gig for a .25 cent raise
    - dug out of my hole to profitability - 6 month point
    - quit my telemarketing gig because I knew the sky was the limit for my career
    - made a few idiotic trades and lost a bunch of money only to return to net negative again with no nighttime job/no income
    - started living on my credit card and the few hundred bucks I had been able to save from my night job
    - slowly got back to being flat-to-positive in my account - 8 month point
    - neared my $3k limit on my credit card and was very worried and knew I may have to find another night job
    - with only about 200 bucks in credit left I earned my first check during my 9th month of trading!!!!

    been in and dug out of plenty of holes since then but I've been a full-time trader with no other jobs since I quit that telemarketing gig in June of 2007...I do not recommend racking up credit card debt to finance trading dreams btw, I was very lucky/blessed that things worked out for more cc debt btw...
  3. I started trading in the mid to late 90's.... I had no idea what I was doing.
    I just wanted to; HURRYupANDmakeHUGEprofits!

    Things were a lot different then. Windows 3.1, A 14.4 modem maybe 28.8, I know it was a phone line! I decided to trade the D Mark, intraday. The CME offered "live data" free over the internet, live meant if you clicked the "refresh button" the new quote would appear! There was about a six second delay, meaning you could click and click and click, and the price wouldn't change, then about six seconds after your last refresh you'd get a new quote. I had NO software. No charts. I made up graph paper, with TIME across the top and price up the side! As I got the quotes (every 6s) I filled in the boxes (by hand) which created patterns on the paper..... Later I realized it looked like some half assed point and figure chart. One issue was when prices went off my chart I had to get out my scissors and cut the paper move it up or down and tape it together (then hope prices didn't go back up or down). And I kept adding to the length of the paper, by the end of the session my chart was about five feet long!!! I figured fibonacci lines with a calculator and noticed "waves" in my prices. Believe it or not, I made some great trades! Of course in the long run I lost more than I made. Mostly because of "being stupid." No stops, poor targets, economic reports, (what are they???) holding profit overnight and waking up with a loser...stuff like that... I kept this up for over a year, and loved everyday of it... There were a few platforms available back then DTN, CCQ or QQC (???) and Trade Station, but they were (thousands of dollars) and data was (sold by the pound)...

    At the time the GLOBEX was still "taboo",,,, as I recall, I think the globex shut down when the "floor" opened. Let's just say there were 100,000 trades traded in a day..... Probably 30,000 MAX were done off the "floor". Oh yea, I had to "call my broker" on the phone to put my orders in. The "forex" as we know it today didn't exist, I think to "get in" back then the minimum was like $500,000 (thank God I didn't have any money). I will say the intraday trends were longer in (time). Things didn't move at the speed of light and traders didn't take (as many) 10 or 20pt profits..... If you were (right), riding a $800 or $1200 trend was common. I think that's how I lasted as long as I did.

    The Euro was coming, and so was technology. My life turned a corner and I sat out a few years. I learned more with that old "kerosene" powered computer than you can imagine. When I got back into trading, I quickly learned "EVERYTHING" was different! I hit the books and studied. I built a system for the "new" market. I tested and tested, then I forward tested, I probably spent six months testing. Then, I stuck a toe in the water, it worked great. I still scribble little charts on my desk pad and I still figure (some) fibonacci numbers with my calculator, but I haven't "talked" to a broker in over ten years! Today speed is the name of the game, and market action is not going to slow down. More players, faster and smaller moves, it's a tough arena for the new guy. But with the technology available to all of us, and the hard work of some of us,,,,,, I'm in.

    Good trading
  4. r4lle


    great posting Went Fishing
  5. How about your first year??

    Garchbrooks ?

    RedneckTrader ?

    TraderZones ?

    NoDoji ?

    LeeD ?

    I'm a new guy on ET and "forums" in general. Waking up to the notion of separating the wheat from the chaff, seems to be an important part of the "forum" experience. The definitions of words appears to be another important part.

    A thread asking for the definition of a "successful trader" might crash any site. I'm sure it means many things to many people, and probably some $ figure to most.

    Coming back from a 20% or 30% D/D would qualify any trader as a success in my book. It's all relative.
    Me? I just want a new fish'n pole!

    Good trading
  6. emg


    my first yr was bad. I was a cbot floor trader and was losing an average $3000 per day.

    after watching and observing whales on the floor, that is how i develop my system.

    It took yrs though
  7. gaj


    my first days were august '99. i had traded while at a full time other job, then left on my own.

    was fading huge up moves, and you'd see wacky stuff - YHOO in S&P500 or something like that, and the intraday RSI was at near 100 most of the day...JDSU buys SDLI for a huge premium, and JDSU goes way up (it should have gone down). stocks go from 5 to 45 in 3 days.

    fortunately, i wasn't taking huge positions, so i didn't get killed.

    i also was too young (in years) to realize how far a bubble could correct. so i made money for a few months in '00, and broke even the rest of the year.

    had either cable modem or DSL so i had some speed, but i let my emotions guide me far too much. didn't know as much about scaling in unless there's a near-perfect setup, but fortunately, i wasn't a long-only trader.

    some advantages i had:
    -> background in baseball cards helped me to know to sell when the ducks are quacking.
    -> i knew i could get a techie job if i needed to.
    -> wife supported me fully, also knew that i'd throw in the towel if i wasn't progressing / making enough money.

    one of the first lessons i learned (when i didn't have scanners, better lists of stocks to watch and the like) - you hear about a stock on a msg board, and it's already been up...then you watch, it goes up more...and when "you" get in ,it reverses. that set off a light in my head, if something goes straight up (or straight down) there's usually a time to get a counter trade, but you have to be careful.

    the area of "technical analysis" is very subjective. in the 90s, cup and handles could be bought in advance of the actual breakout because it was a huge bull market. now, i wouldn't throw your dollars at a potential cup and handle, because the time isn't right. i also don't follow the head & shoulders patterns or others, but try and watch what OTHERS might be doing. if i see an absolutely beautiful technical setup, and miss the entry - then watch the stock not behave as it should, i'll look to fade the "beautiful" entry, knowing many participants got stuck.

    much of what i use know, i knew then. either buying strong stocks on pullbacks / selling weak stocks on pullbacks, or buying/selling stocks which should revert to the mean. i read hundreds of books, and absorbed much of that information early on - but it's taken me years to apply it really well, and i still feel i'm learning almost every day.
  8. NoDoji


    My first year was very bad. I started as a total noob netting over $40K in about 2 months (blotter attached).

    I then commenced to lose that $40K and significantly more because I maintained a bull market attitude after the trend was no longer my friend. I had a slew of back month options that expired worthless, taking a large chunk out of my account. I started day trading in July 2008 and was quite good at it, right off the bat. But I kept seeing stocks I day-traded produce a whole lot more profit if only I'd held them, and I did some swing trades that killed me. Again, because of a total lack of risk management and the belief that anything that goes down has to go back up. I still shudder when I think about a very large FWLT option position I had on that produced a large drawdown on my account and one morning price spiked a bit on news and I had the sense to quickly exit the trade for a $2300 gain instead of holding for the much larger target I was expecting. That spike was short-lived and I escaped by the skin of my teeth. That trade would've turned into my largest single loss. The $18K loss on STLD options around the same time was bad enough.

    About 2 months after my first year was up, I had taken another large loss that wiped out a good chunk of 1st quarter 2009 amazing winning streak. I realized that the way I was trading would not carry me through shifting market conditions and I spent a long time in 2009 actually learning to trade. I wanted to get to the point I could trade on any given day, rather than scan for stocks "in play" or waiting for one particular setup.

    It took a LOT of work and study, hours and hours and hours (still putting them in, too), but it's finally paying off.

    My goal this year is to pay off my trading tuition from those early days :)
  9. after 10+ years -- only income from trading --- I am still learning today as much as I did when I first started. you have to be good with details and observation, and enjoy the HARD WORK! profits don't come from laziness.
  10. Different chart patterns appear during different phases of the market cycle. Especially, many "easy chart set ups" will appear a few months preceding the start of a bear market. Thus, to become proficient in the stock market, one may spend an entire lifetime observing said different phases of the stock market.
    #10     May 19, 2010