I currently have my account with IB, and I have been pleased for years. One aspect that I use is the Paper Trading Account (PTA). I do not think it is utilized enough. Over the years, as I developed new trading strategies, I would first test them. Not only am I looking at results, I am looking at the mechanics of the trade. For instance, covered calls. I messed around with different ways of entering these trades. By using the PTA, I found that the BasketTrade was the best for me. For daytrading the ES, I found that the BookTrader was best. For entering all of my option spreads (exotic and otherwise), I use the "Generic Combo" feature. All of this was played out in the PTA before using real money. Executions and results are the same, so the simulation is very real. I suggest that the newbies really mess around with the PTA. Forget about the number of stocks or contracts--that is irrelevent. Concentrate on your strategies and executions.