What elements of the trading game do you concentrate on
each market day? Do you push hard for the big gain but face big losses when the action
suddenly turns on you? Or do you slowly build up each profit and always watch defensively
for a quick exit when wrong? The path you take will define your success or failure as a
Our on-line trading course Mastering The Trade uses the simplified table just below to illustrate a few important
observations about profit and loss. Most trading strategies have a built-in
success/failure rate. For example, scalping incurs a high %WIN but a low AvgWIN.
Alternatively, buying breakouts reflects a lower percentage of winners but the average
gain is greater. Regardless of how you trade, the market offers only three ways to improve
profitability (for any given number of trades):
a. Raise your %WIN
b. Raise your AvgWIN
c. Lower your AvgLOSS
Day traders have fewer profitability options than position
traders. Price tends to move away from an entry point as a function of time.
So individual day trading gains (AvgWIN) are generally smaller than position trading
gains. Very short-term time frames also frustrate attempts to raise %WIN since day traders
must be right immediately while a position trader can wade through many whipsaws to get to
But day traders are in a much better
position to control losses than position traders. The price-time tendency now works to
their advantage. In other words, incurred losses should be smaller (on average) because
the position is held a shorter period of time. This allows day traders to take their
individual losses closer to -0- than position traders.
Manage the loss side of trades and youll increase
profits more quickly than chasing gains. In preparing your exit, recall a valuable rule
for optimal technical analysis entry: execute your trade where price must move only
a short distance to prove that you are wrong. This frequently defines a strategy
where you enter a promising position right at support/resistance. If price goes through
the line, exit immediately with a small loss and get on to the next trade.
You have to be very, very good before you allow
yourself to be bad. % WIN simply measures your winners against losers. If you make
money on 3 out of 4 trades, your % WIN is 75%. See how the average loss changes from the
75% to 25% levels.