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7 Rules For Binary Options Trading Plan: No Need For ‘Plan B’
Binary Options Trading Plan
Just like anything else, there are some necessities that should be met for binary option trading.
While all other guides will help you with how to trade and what are the exceptions for binary options, this guide is specifically designed to let you know about the rules and conditions required for binary option trading.
If you are looking to become a better trade, these key components are essential in order to develop trading strategies and to earn more and more profits.
Discipline is essential to reach anywhere in life, just considering various trading strategies and copying other style will only give temporary solution and will be a roadblock being a successful trader.
It is perfectly alright to consider others trading style to learn how everything works and to get a start in binary option trading ;
But then after a point of time, you should be able to be independent and come up with own trading strategies by applying marketing knowledge, forecasting and logic.
The top 7 rules for being a successful binary option trader are:
How to Succeed with Binary Options Trading 2020
Welcome to the largest expert guide to binary options and binary trading online. BinaryOptions.net has educated traders globally since 2020 and all our articles are written by professionals who make a living in the finance industry and online trading. We have close to a thousand articles and reviews to guide you to be a more profitable trader in 2020 no matter what your current experience level is. If you wish to discuss trading or brokers with other traders, we also have the world’s largest forum with over 20 000 members and lots of daily activity. Read on to get started trading today!
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What is a Binary Option and How Do You Make Money?
A binary option is a fast and extremely simple financial instrument which allows investors to speculate on whether the price of an asset will go up or down in the future, for example the stock price of Google, the price of Bitcoin, the USD/GBP exchange rate, or the price of gold. The time span can be as little as 60 seconds, making it possible to trade hundreds of times per day across any global market.
Before you place a trade you know exactly how much you stand to gain if your prediction is correct, usually 70-95% – if you invest $100 you will receive a credit of $170 – $195 on a successful trade. This makes risk management and trading decisions much more simple. The outcome is always a Yes or No answer – you either win it all or you lose it all – hence it being a “binary” option. The risk and reward is known in advance and this structured payoff is one of the attractions.
Exchange traded binaries are also now available, meaning traders are not trading against the broker.
To get started trading you first need a regulated broker account (or licensed). Pick one from the recommended brokers list, where only brokers that have shown themselves to be trustworthy are included. The top broker has been selected as the best choice for most traders.
If you are completely new to binary options you can open a demo account with most brokers, to try out their platform and see what it’s like to trade before you deposit real money.
Introduction Video – How to Trade Binary Options
These videos will introduce you to the concept of binary options and how trading works. If you want to know even more details, please read this whole page and follow the links to all the more in-depth articles. Binary trading does not have to be complicated, but as with any topic you can educate yourself to be an expert and perfect your skills.
The most common type of binary option is the simple “Up/Down” trade. There are however, different types of option. The one common factor, is that the outcome will have a “binary” result (Yes or No). Here are some of the types available:
- Up/Down or High/Low – The basic and most common binary option. Will a price finish higher or lower than the current price a the time of expiry.
- In/Out, Range or Boundary – This option sets a “high” figure and “low” figure. Traders predict whether the price will finish within, or outside, of these levels (or ‘boundaries’).
- Touch/No Touch – These have set levels, higher or lower than the current price. The trader has to predict whether the actual price will ‘touch’ those levels at any point between the time of the trade an expiry.
Note with a touch option, that the trade can close before the expiry time – if the price level is touched before the option expires, then the “Touch” option will payout immediately, regardless of whether the price moves away from the touch level afterwards.
- Ladder – These options behave like a normal Up/Down trade, but rather than using the current strike price, the ladder will have preset price levels (‘laddered’ progressively up or down).These can often be some way from the current strike price.As these options generally need a significant price move, payouts will often go beyond 100% – but both sides of the trade may not be available.
How to Trade – Step by Step Guide
Below is a step by step guide to placing a binary trade:
- Choose a broker – Use our broker reviews and comparison tools to find the best binary trading site for you.
- Select the asset or market to trade – Assets lists are huge, and cover Commodities, Stocks, Cryptocurrency, Forex or Indices. The price of oil, or the Apple stock price, for example.
- Select the expiry time – Options can expire anywhere between 30 seconds up to a year.
- Set the size of the trade – Remember 100% of the investment is at risk so consider the trade amount carefully.
- Click Call / Put or Buy / Sell – Will the asset value rise or fall? Some broker label buttons differently.
- Check and confirm the trade – Many brokers give traders a chance to ensure the details are correct before confirming the trade.
Choose a Broker
Options fraud has been a significant problem in the past. Fraudulent and unlicensed operators exploited binary options as a new exotic derivative. These firms are thankfully disappearing as regulators have finally begun to act, but traders still need to look for regulated brokers.
Note! Don’t EVER trade with a broker or use a service that’s on our blacklist and scams page, stick with the ones we recommend here on the site. Here are some shortcuts to pages that can help you determine which broker is right for you:
- Compare all brokers – if you want to compare the features and offers of all recommended brokers.
- Bonuses and Offers – if you want to make sure you get extra money to trade with, or other promotions and offers.
- Low minimum deposit brokers – if you want to trade for real without having to deposit large sums of money.
- Demo Accounts – if you want to try a trading platform “for real” without depositing money at all.
- Halal Brokers – if you are one of the growing number of Muslim traders.
The number and diversity of assets you can trade varies from broker to broker. Most brokers provide options on popular assets such as major forex pairs including the EUR/USD, USD/JPY and GBP/USD, as well as major stock indices such as the FTSE, S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial. Commodities including gold, silver, oil are also generally offered.
Individual stocks and equities are also tradable through many binary brokers. Not every stock will be available though, but generally you can choose from about 25 to 100 popular stocks, such as Google and Apple. These lists are growing all the time as demand dictates.
The asset lists are always listed clearly on every trading platform, and most brokers make their full asset lists available on their website. This information is also available within our reviews, including currency pairs.
The expiry time is the point at which a trade is closed and settled. The only exception is where a ‘Touch’ option has hit a preset level prior to expiry. The expiry for any given trade can range from 30 seconds, up to a year. While binaries initially started with very short expiries, demand has ensured there is now a broad range of expiry times available. Some brokers even give traders the flexibility to set their own specific expiry time.
Expiries are generally grouped into three categories:
- Short Term / Turbo – These are normally classed as any expiry under 5 minutes
- Normal – These would range from 5 minutes, up to ‘end of day’ expiries which expire when the local market for that asset closes.
- Long term – Any expiry beyond the end of the day would be considered long term. The longest expiry might be 12 months.
While slow to react to binary options initially, regulators around the world are now starting to regulate the industry and make their presence felt. The major regulators currently include:
- Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – UK regulator
- Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySec) – Cyprus Regulator, often ‘passported’ throughout the EU, under MiFID
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – US regulator
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
There are also regulators operating in Malta and the Isle of Man. Many other authorities are now taking a keen a interest in binaries specifically, notably in Europe where domestic regulators are keen to bolster the CySec regulation.
Unregulated brokers still operate, and while some are trustworthy, a lack of regulation is a clear warning sign for potential new customers.
Recently, ESMA (European Securities and Markets Authority) moved to ban the sale and marketing of binary options in the EU. The ban however, only applies to brokers regulated in the EU. This leaves traders two choices to keep trading: Firstly, they can trade with an unregulated firm – this is extremely high risk and not advisable. Some unregulated firms are responsible and honest, but many are not.
The second choice is to use a firm regulated by bodies outside of the EU. ASIC in Australia are a strong regulator – but they will not be implementing a ban. This means ASIC regulated firms can still accept EU traders. See our broker lists for regulated or trusted brokers in your region.
There is also a third option. Traders who register as ‘professional’ are exempt from the new ban. The ban is only designed to protect ‘retail’ investors. A professional trader can continue trading at EU regulated brokers such as IQ Option. To be classed as professional, an account holder must meet two of these three criteria:
- Open 10 or more trades per quarter, of €150 or more.
- Have assets of €500,000 or more
- Have worked for two years in a financial firm and have experience of financial products.
Strategies and Guides
We have a lot of detailed guides and strategy articles for both general education and specialized trading techniques. Below are a few to get you started if you want to learn the basic before you start trading. From Martingale to Rainbow, you can find plenty more on the strategy page.
Signals and Other Services
For further reading on signals and reviews of different services go to the signals page.
If you are totally new to the trading scene then watch this great video by Professor Shiller of Yale University who introduces the main ideas of options:
Education for beginners:
Types of Trades
How to Set Up a Trade
The ability to trade the different types of binary options can be achieved by understanding certain concepts such as strike price or price barrier, settlement, and expiration date. All trades have dates at which they expire.
When the trade expires, the behaviour of the price action according to the type selected will determine if it’s in profit (in the money) or in a loss position (out-of-the-money). In addition, the price targets are key levels that the trader sets as benchmarks to determine outcomes. We will see the application of price targets when we explain the different types.
There are three types of trades. Each of these has different variations. These are:
Let us take them one after the other.
Also called the Up/Down binary trade, the essence is to predict if the market price of the asset will end up higher or lower than the strike price (the selected target price) before the expiration. If the trader expects the price to go up (the “Up” or “High” trade), he purchases a call option. If he expects the price to head downwards (“Low” or “Down”), he purchases a put option. Expiry times can be as low as 5 minutes.
Please note: some brokers classify Up/Down as a different types, where a trader purchases a call option if he expects the price to rise beyond the current price, or purchases a put option if he expects the price to fall below current prices. You may see this as a Rise/Fall type on some trading platforms.
The In/Out type, also called the “tunnel trade” or the “boundary trade”, is used to trade price consolidations (“in”) and breakouts (“out”). How does it work? First, the trader sets two price targets to form a price range. He then purchases an option to predict if the price will stay within the price range/tunnel until expiration (In) or if the price will breakout of the price range in either direction (Out).
The best way to use the tunnel binaries is to use the pivot points of the asset. If you are familiar with pivot points in forex, then you should be able to trade this type.
This type is predicated on the price action touching a price barrier or not. A “Touch” option is a type where the trader purchases a contract that will deliver profit if the market price of the asset purchased touches the set target price at least once before expiry. If the price action does not touch the price target (the strike price) before expiry, the trade will end up as a loss.
A “No Touch” is the exact opposite of the Touch. Here you are betting on the price action of the underlying asset not touching the strike price before the expiration.
There are variations of this type where we have the Double Touch and Double No Touch. Here the trader can set two price targets and purchase a contract that bets on the price touching both targets before expiration (Double Touch) or not touching both targets before expiration (Double No Touch). Normally you would only employ the Double Touch trade when there is intense market volatility and prices are expected to take out several price levels.
Some brokers offer all three types, while others offer two, and there are those that offer only one variety. In addition, some brokers also put restrictions on how expiration dates are set. In order to get the best of the different types, traders are advised to shop around for brokers who will give them maximum flexibility in terms of types and expiration times that can be set.
Trading via your mobile has been made very easy as all major brokers provide fully developed mobile trading apps. Most trading platforms have been designed with mobile device users in mind. So the mobile version will be very similar, if not the same, as the full web version on the traditional websites.
Brokers will cater for both iOS and Android devices, and produce versions for each. Downloads are quick, and traders can sign up via the mobile site as well. Our reviews contain more detail about each brokers mobile app, but most are fully aware that this is a growing area of trading. Traders want to react immediately to news events and market updates, so brokers provide the tools for clients to trade wherever they are.
What Does Binary Options Mean?
“Binary options” means, put very simply, a trade where the outcome is a ‘binary’ Yes/No answer. These options pay a fixed amount if they win (known as “in the money”), but the entire investment is lost, if the binary trade loses. So, in short, they are a form of fixed return financial options.
How Does a Stock Trade Work?
Steps to trade a stock via a binary option;
- Select the stock or equity.
- Identify the desired expiry time (The time the option will end).
- Enter the size of the trade or investment
- Decide if the value will rise or fall and place a put or call
The steps above will be the same at every single broker. More layers of complexity can be added, but when trading equities the simple Up/Down trade type remains the most popular.
Put and Call Options
Call and Put are simply the terms given to buying or selling an option. If a trader thinks the underlying price will go up in value, they can open a call. But where they expect the price to go down, they can place a put trade.
Different trading platforms label their trading buttons different, some even switch between Buy/Sell and Call/Put. Others drop the phrases put and call altogether. Almost every trading platform will make it absolutely clear which direction a trader is opening an option in.
Are Binary Options a Scam?
As a financial investment tool they in themselves not a scam, but there are brokers, trading robots and signal providers that are untrustworthy and dishonest.
The point is not to write off the concept of binary options, based solely on a handful of dishonest brokers. The image of these financial instruments has suffered as a result of these operators, but regulators are slowly starting to prosecute and fine the offenders and the industry is being cleaned up. Our forum is a great place to raise awareness of any wrongdoing.
These simple checks can help anyone avoid the scams:
- Marketing promising huge returns. This is clear warning sign. Binaries are a high risk / high reward tool – they are not a “make money online” scheme and should not be sold as such. Operators making such claims are very likely to be untrustworthy.
- Know the broker. Some operators will ‘funnel’ new customer to a broker they partner with, so the person has no idea who their account is with. A trader should know the broker they are going to trade with! These funnels often fall into the “get rich quick” marketing discussed earlier.
- Cold Calls. Professional brokers will not make cold calls – they do not market themselves in that way. Cold calls will often be from unregulated brokers interested only in getting an initial deposit. Proceed extremely carefully if joining a company that got in contact this way. This would include email contact as well – any form of contact out of the blue.
- Terms and Conditions. When taking a bonus or offer, read the full terms and conditions. Some will include locking in an initial deposit (in addition to the bonus funds) until a high volume of trades have been made. The first deposit is the trader’s cash – legitimate brokers would not claim it as theirs before any trading. Some brokers also offer the option of cancelling a bonus if it does not fit the needs of the trader.
- Do not let anyone trade for you. Avoid allowing any “account manager” to trade for you. There is a clear conflict of interest, but these employees of the broker will encourage traders to make large deposits, and take greater risks . Traders should not let anyone trade on their behalf.
Which Are The Best Trading Strategies?
Binary trading strategies are unique to each trade. We have a strategy section, and there are ideas that traders can experiment with. Technical analysis is of use to some traders, combined with charts, indicators and price action research. Money management is essential to ensure risk management is applied to all trading. Different styles will suit different traders and strategies will also evolve and change.
There is no single “best” strategy. Traders need to ask questions of their investing aims and risk appetite and then learn what works for them.
Are Binary Options Gambling?
This will depend entirely on the habits of the trader. With no strategy or research, then any short term investment is going to win or lose based only on luck. Conversely, a trader making a well researched trade will ensure they have done all they can to avoid relying on good fortune.
Binary options can be used to gamble, but they can also be used to make trades based on value and expected profits. So the answer to the question will come down to the trader.
Advantages of Binary Trading
The main benefit of binaries is the clarity of risk and reward and the structure of the trade.
Minimal Financial Risk
If you have traded forex or its more volatile cousins, crude oil or spot metals such as gold or silver, you will have probably learnt one thing: these markets carry a lot of risk and it is very easy to be blown off the market. Things like leverage and margin, news events, slippages and price re-quotes, etc can all affect a trade negatively. The situation is different in binary options trading. There is no leverage to contend with, and phenomena such as slippage and price re-quotes have no effect on binary option trade outcomes. This reduces the risk in binary option trading to the barest minimum.
The binary options market allows traders to trade financial instruments spread across the currency and commodity markets as well as indices and bonds. This flexibility is unparalleled, and gives traders with the knowledge of how to trade these markets, a one-stop shop to trade all these instruments.
A binary trade outcome is based on just one parameter: direction. The trader is essentially betting on whether a financial asset will end up in a particular direction. In addition, the trader is at liberty to determine when the trade ends, by setting an expiry date. This gives a trade that initially started badly the opportunity to end well. This is not the case with other markets. For example, control of losses can only be achieved using a stop loss. Otherwise, a trader has to endure a drawdown if a trade takes an adverse turn in order to give it room to turn profitable. The simple point being made here is that in binary options, the trader has less to worry about than if he were to trade other markets.
Greater Control of Trades
Traders have better control of trades in binaries. For example, if a trader wants to buy a contract, he knows in advance, what he stands to gain and what he will lose if the trade is out-of-the-money. This is not the case with other markets. For example, when a trader sets a pending order in the forex market to trade a high-impact news event, there is no assurance that his trade will be filled at the entry price or that a losing trade will be closed out at the exit stop loss.
The payouts per trade are usually higher in binaries than with other forms of trading. Some brokers offer payouts of up to 80% on a trade. This is achievable without jeopardising the account. In other markets, such payouts can only occur if a trader disregards all rules of money management and exposes a large amount of trading capital to the market, hoping for one big payout (which never occurs in most cases).
In order to trade the highly volatile forex or commodities markets, a trader has to have a reasonable amount of money as trading capital. For instance, trading gold, a commodity with an intra-day volatility of up to 10,000 pips in times of high volatility, requires trading capital in tens of thousands of dollars. However, binary options has much lower entry requirements, as some brokers allow people to start trading with as low as $10.
Disadvantages of Binary Trading
Reduced Trading Odds for Sure-Banker Trades
The payouts for binary options trades are drastically reduced when the odds for that trade succeeding are very high. While it is true that some trades offer as much as 85% payouts per trade, such high payouts are possible only when a trade is made with the expiry date set at some distance away from the date of the trade. Of course in such situations, the trades are more unpredictable.
Lack of Good Trading Tools
Some brokers do not offer truly helpful trading tools such as charts and features for technical analysis to their clients. Experienced traders can get around this by sourcing for these tools elsewhere; inexperienced traders who are new to the market are not as fortunate. This is changing for the better though, as operators mature and become aware of the need for these tools to attract traders.
Limitations on Risk Management
Unlike in forex where traders can get accounts that allow them to trade mini- and micro-lots on small account sizes, many binary option brokers set a trading floor; minimum amounts which a trader can trade in the market. This makes it easier to lose too much capital when trading binaries. As an illustration, a forex broker may allow you to open an account with $200 and trade micro-lots, which allows a trader to expose only acceptable amounts of his capital to the market. However, you will be hard put finding many binary brokers that will allow you to trade below $50, even with a $200 account. In this situation, four losing trades will blow the account.
Cost of Losing Trades
Unlike in other markets where the risk/reward ratio can be controlled and set to give an edge to winning trades, the odds of binary options tilt the risk-reward ratio in favour of losing trades.
When trading a market like the forex or commodities market, it is possible to close a trade with minimal losses and open another profitable one, if a repeat analysis of the trade reveals the first trade to have been a mistake. Where binaries are traded on an exchange, this is mitigated however.
Spot Forex vs Binary Trading
These are two different alternatives, traded with two different psychologies, but both can make sense as investment tools. One is more TIME centric and the other is more PRICE centric. They both work in time/price but the focus you will find from one to the other is an interesting split. Spot forex traders might overlook time as a factor in their trading which is a very very big mistake. The successful binary trader has a more balanced view of time/price, which simply makes him a more well rounded trader. Binaries by their nature force one to exit a position within a given time frame win or lose which instills a greater focus on discipline and risk management. In forex trading this lack of discipline is the #1 cause for failure to most traders as they will simply hold losing positions for longer periods of time and cut winning positions in shorter periods of time. In binary options that is not possible as time expires your trade ends win or lose. Below are some examples of how this works.
Above is a trade made on the EUR/USD buying in an under 10 minute window of price and time. As a binary trader this focus will naturally make you better than the below example, where a spot forex trader who focuses on price while ignoring the time element ends up in trouble. This psychology of being able to focus on limits and the dual axis will aid you in becoming a better trader overall.
The very advantage of spot trading is its very same failure – the expansion of profits exponentially from 1 point in price. This is to say that if you enter a position that you believe will increase in value and the price does not increase yet accelerates to the downside, the normal tendency for most spot traders is to wait it out or worse add to the losing positions as they figure it will come back. The acceleration in time to the opposite desired direction causes most spot traders to be trapped in unfavourable positions, all because they do not plan time into their reasoning, and this leads to a complete lack of trading discipline.
The nature of binary options force one to have a more complete mindset of trading off both Y = Price Range and X = Time Range as limits are applied. They will simply make you a better overall trader from the start. Conversely on the flip side, they by their nature require a greater win rate as each bet means a 70-90% gain vs a 100% loss. So your win rate needs to be on average 54%-58% to break even. This imbalance causes many traders to overtrade or revenge trade which is just as bad as holding/adding to losing positions as a spot forex trader. To successfully trade you need to practice money management and emotional control.
In conclusion, when starting out as a trader, binaries might offer a better foundation to learn trading. The simple reasoning is that the focus on TIME/PRICE combined is like looking both ways when crossing the street. The average spot forex trader only looks at price, which means he is only looking in one direction before crossing the street. Learning to trade taking both time and price into consideration should aid in making one a much overall trader.
10 Steps to Building a Winning Trading Plan
There is an old expression in business that, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It may sound glib, but people that are serious about being successful, including traders, should follow those words as if they are written in stone. Ask any trader who makes money on a consistent basis and they will probably tell you that you have two choices: 1) methodically follow a written plan or 2) fail.
If you already have a written trading or investment plan, congratulations, you are in the minority. It takes time, effort, and research to develop an approach or methodology that works in financial markets. While there are never any guarantees of success, you have eliminated one major roadblock by creating a detailed trading plan.
- Having a plan is essential for achieving trading success.
- A trading plan should be written in stone, but is subject to reevaluation and can be adjusted along with changing market conditions.
- A solid trading plan considers the trader’s personal style and goals.
- Knowing when to exit a trade is just as important as knowing when to enter the position.
- Stop-loss prices and profit targets should be added to the trading plan to identify specific exit points for each trade.
If your plan uses flawed techniques or lacks preparation, your success won’t come immediately, but at least you are in a position to chart and modify your course. By documenting the process, you learn what works and how to avoid the costly mistakes that newbie traders sometimes face. Whether or not you have a plan now, here are some ideas to help with the process.
Disaster Avoidance 101
Trading is a business, so you have to treat it as such if you want to succeed. Reading a few books, buying a charting program, opening a brokerage account, and starting to trade with real money is not a business plan—it is more like a recipe for disaster.
A plan should be written—with clear signals that are not subject to change—while you are trading, but subject to reevaluation when the markets are closed. The plan can change with market conditions and might see adjustments as the trader’s skill level improves. Each trader should write their own plan, taking into account personal trading styles and goals. Using someone else’s plan does not reflect your trading characteristics.
Investing After the Golden Age
Building the Perfect Master Plan
No two trading plans are the same because no two traders are exactly alike. Each approach will reflect important factors like trading style as well as risk tolerance. What are the other essential components of a solid trading plan? Here are 10 that every plan should include:
1. Skill Assessment
Are you ready to trade? Have you tested your system by paper trading it, and do you have confidence that it will work in a live trading environment? Can you follow your signals without hesitation? Trading the markets is a battle of give and take. The real pros are prepared and take profits from the rest of the crowd who, lacking a plan, generally give money away after costly mistakes.
2. Mental Preparation
How do you feel? Did you get enough sleep? Do you feel up to the challenge ahead? If you are not emotionally and psychologically ready to do battle in the market, take the day off—otherwise, you risk losing your shirt. This is almost guaranteed to happen if you are angry, preoccupied, or otherwise distracted from the task at hand.
Many traders have a market mantra they repeat before the day begins to get them ready. Create one that puts you in the trading zone. Additionally, your trading area should be free of distractions. Remember, this is a business and distractions can be costly.
3. Set Risk Level
How much of your portfolio should you risk on one trade? This will depend on your trading style and tolerance for risk. The amount of risk can vary, but should probably range from around 1% to 5% of your portfolio on a given trading day. That means if you lose that amount at any point in the day, you get out of the market and stay out. It’s better to take a break, and then fight another day, if things aren’t going your way.
4. Set Goals
Before you enter a trade, set realistic profit targets and risk/reward ratios. What is the minimum risk/reward you will accept? Many traders will not take a trade unless the potential profit is at least three times greater than the risk. For example, if your stop loss is $1 per share, your goal should be a $3 per share in profit. Set weekly, monthly, and annual profit goals in dollars or as a percentage of your portfolio, and reassess them regularly.
5. Do Your Homework
Before the market opens, do you check what is going on around the world? Are overseas markets up or down? Are S&P 500 index futures up or down in pre-market? Index futures are a good way of gauging the mood before the market opens because futures contracts trade day and night.
What are the economic or earnings data that are due out and when? Post a list on the wall in front of you and decide whether you want to trade ahead of an important report. For most traders, it is better to wait until the report is released rather than taking unnecessary risks associated with trading during the volatile reactions to reports. Pros trade based on probabilities. They don’t gamble. Trading ahead of an important report is often a gamble because it is impossible to know how markets will react.
6. Trade Preparation
Whatever trading system and program you use, label major and minor support and resistance levels on the charts, set alerts for entry and exit signals and make sure all signals can be easily seen or detected with a clear visual or auditory signal.
7. Set Exit Rules
Most traders make the mistake of concentrating most of their efforts on looking for buy signals, but pay very little attention to when and where to exit. Many traders cannot sell if they are down because they don’t want to take a loss. Get over it, learn to accept losses, or you will not make it as a trader. If your stop gets hit, it means you were wrong. Don’t take it personally. Professional traders lose more trades than they win, but by managing money and limiting losses, they still make profits.
Before you enter a trade, you should know your exits. There are at least two possible exits for every trade. First, what is your stop loss if the trade goes against you? It must be written down. Mental stops don’t count. Second, each trade should have a profit target. Once you get there, sell a portion of your position and you can move your stop loss on the rest of your position to the breakeven point if you wish.
8. Set Entry Rules
This comes after the tips for exit rules for a reason: Exits are far more important than entries. A typical entry rule could be worded like this: “If signal A fires and there is a minimum target at least three times as great as my stop loss and we are at support, then buy X contracts or shares here.”
Your system should be complicated enough to be effective, but simple enough to facilitate snap decisions. If you have 20 conditions that must be met and many are subjective, you will find it difficult (if not impossible) to actually make trades. In fact, computers often make better traders than people, which may explain why nearly 50% of all trades that now occur on the New York Stock Exchange are generated by computer programs.
Computers don’t have to think or feel good to make a trade. If conditions are met, they enter. When the trade goes the wrong way or hits a profit target, they exit. They don’t get angry at the market or feel invincible after making a few good trades. Each decision is based on probabilities, not emotion.
9. Keep Excellent Records
Many experienced and successful traders are also excellent at keeping records. If they win a trade, they want to know exactly why and how. More importantly, they want to know the same when they lose, so they don’t repeat unnecessary mistakes. Write down details such as targets, the entry and exit of each trade, the time, support and resistance levels, daily opening range, market open and close for the day, and record comments about why you made the trade as well as the lessons learned.
You should also save your trading records so that you can go back and analyze the profit or loss for a particular system, drawdowns (which are amounts lost per trade using a trading system), average time per trade (which is necessary to calculate trade efficiency), and other important factors. Also, compare these factors to a buy-and-hold strategy. Remember, this is a business and you are the accountant. You want your business to be as successful and profitable as possible.
The percentage of day traders that quit within two years, according to a 2020 paper titled “Do Day Traders Rationally Learn About Their Abilities” by Barber, Lee, Liu, and Odean.
10. Analyze Performance
After each trading day, adding up the profit or loss is secondary to knowing the why and how. Write down your conclusions in your trading journal so you can reference them later. Remember, there will always be losing trades. What you want is a trading plan that wins over the longer term.
The Bottom Line
Successful practice trading does not guarantee that you will find success when you begin trading real money. That’s when emotions come into play. But successful practice trading does give the trader confidence in the system they are using, if the system is generating positive results in a practice environment. Deciding on a system is less important than gaining enough skill to make trades without second-guessing or doubting the decision. Confidence is key.
There is no way to guarantee a trade will make money. The trader’s chances are based on their skill and system of winning and losing. There is no such thing as winning without losing. Professional traders know before they enter a trade that the odds are in their favor or they wouldn’t be there. By letting their profits ride and cutting losses short, a trader may lose some battles, but they will win the war. Most traders and investors do the opposite, which is why they don’t consistently make money.
Traders who win consistently treat trading as a business. While there is no guarantee that you will make money, having a plan is crucial if you want to be consistently successful and survive in the trading game.
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