Going for the Jugular

It’s time.

Why…is it time?

And, time for what?

It’s time to go for the jugular.

Meaning?

There comes a time, when, after working hard, struggling, doing the whole jig, the rigmarole, you achieve your basics. 

Well done. Pat on your back. 

Then you secure these basics. 

Forever. 

If you can. 

Wonderful. More pats.

Worry factor is now out of the equation. 

Your family is secure. 

Food, safety, education, all basics intact.

Fantastic. You deserve an award. Not that anyone’s going to give you one. Frankly, nobody could care less. Never mind. You know in your mind that you’ve achieved a milestone, and that’s enough for you. 

Whats the next step…

…for you?

Jugular. 

What is this jugular?

Multiplier.

X-factor.

Call it what you will.

What does this mysterious thing do?

Better question is, what is it capable of?

You’re looking to multiply your networth. 

Isn’t everyone?

This is different.

Why?

Because it is coming as a logical conclusion, and not as a first-step with no experience and no secure basics. 

You’re keeping your head-earned basics secure. 

Nothing is touching these. You’ll be surprised at the kind of courage secure basics give you to act further. 

Next, you’ve identified an area where your skill-set can be leveraged into huge profits with minimal risk. 

Specifically in the market, these areas are abundant. 

So what exactly will you be doing?

Playing on a minuscule portion of your net worth. Let’s say not more than 2 %.

Leverage.

Stoploss.

Profit-run.

Position-sizing. Scaling up upon profits. Scaling down upon losses. 

Overcoming your demons. 

Fear.

Worry.

Hypertension.

Exuberance.

Hubris.

Complaecency. 

Going beyond. 

Multiplying.

Going for the jugular. 

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Winning Marketplay, Anyone?

Two words. 

Psychology.

Strategy. 

That’s it. 

Prediction?

No. 

Prediction is not pivotal here. 

We’re getting psychology and strategy right. 

We want winning marketplay, right?

Prediction is for losing marketplay. Prediction might be wrong. That’s when strategy and psychology save you from big loss. A big loss can wipe you out. Thus, dependence upon sheer prediction brings a wipe-out into play. That’s why, prediction is almost always relegated to the bottom rank when one talks about winning marketplay.

We’ll travel with a hint of prediction, though. Just a hint. Doesn’t suffice for losing yet. 

For entry purposes. Only.

Even this hint of prediction is bias-giving, though. Once we enter, we need to quickly lose the bias. Yeah, once we enter, we only react to what we see. 

Our system has an edge. It helps us choose market direction. After that, psychology and strategy take over. 

Meaning, after we’ve entered, there’s no more prediction in play. 

So what’s in play then?

The raw trade. 

And you.

At this point, all your mental strength comes into play. 

Oh, and your strategy. 

You do have a strategy, right?

As in, if x happens, they y, and if a happens then b.

You need a stoploss too.

You don’t have to show it. It can be mental, provided you don’t fool yourself into not using it when the time comes.

You won’t execute your stop. 

Sure. 

Again and again. 

Till you teach yourself how to. 

Till you lose big. And are still left standing. To want to enter again. 

Learning to take a small hit, again and again and again – that’s winning marketplay. Requires huge psychological strength. You acquire this. You don’t have to be born with it. 

Now comes another punchline. 

That profit-sapling just emerging…see it? You will not nip it in the bud. 

You’ll still do it. 

And again. 

You’ll nip it in the bud. 

Again and again. 

Till you teach yourself not to. 

It’s not easy. 

95%+ of all market players continue to nip profits in the bud all their lives. 

To allow the sapling to grow into a tree is the most difficult of all market lessons. Learning to let profits run is winning market play. 

To want more profits, you have to risk some of your current profits. 

No more risk, no more gain. 

You want to quickly exit and post that 22% gain on your Excel sheet. Sure. Why can’t you let it grow into an 82% gain? God alone knows. That’s how the cookie crumbles. You nip the opportunity to make that 82%. 

What’s with 82?

Just a random number. 

Am trying to get a point across. There’s a run happening. In a direction. It’s crossing +22%. Fast. Momentum could see it to +102%, to then backtrack and settle at +82%. It’s a probable scenario. 

Anyways, there are some smarties that risk 12 of the 22% and stay in the trade. Soon the 22 can even go beyond 82. Lets say it does. What do you do?

Nip?

No. 

Not yet. 

You let it travel. Momentum is to be allowed free leeway, till it halts. Let’s say it halts at 102. You say to yourself that the winds might change if 102 goes back to 82, and tell your broker to exit if 82 is hit intraday.

That and that alone is the proper way to exit a winning trade. You exit it with the taste of loss. You let the market throw you out. For all you know, the market might be in the mood for 152. You want to give the trade that chance. Thus, a momentum target exit while the move is still on would be less lucrative for you in the long run, or so I think. 

Why?

Statistics are defined by big wins. These matter. Big-time. Allow them to happen. Again and again and again. 

Now add position-sizing into your strategy. The ideology of position-sizing has been discovered and fantastically developed by Dr. Van Tharp. 

In a nutshell, position-sizing means that an increasing trading corpus due to winning should result in an increasing level risked. Also, correspondingly, a decreasing trading corpus due to losing should result in a decreasing level risked.

With position-sizing added to your arsenal, no one will be able to hinder your progress.

Psychological strength that comes from experiencing first-hand and digesting learning from varied market scenarios, coupled with a stoploss/profitrun position-sizing strategy – that’s a winning combination.

Wishing you happy and lucrative trading!

🙂 

Dealing from a Position of Weakness 

When you’re losing… 

… you downsize your position. 

Why? 

To save your corpus. 

You lower the risk. 

Is risk quantifiable? 

You bet. 

Risk is no abstract entity without a body. 

In a trade, your risk is defined by your stop to stack-size ratio and the size of your one position. 

When you’re losing, you either lower the magnitude of your stop, or lower the quantity of your one position. 

Till when?

Till your corpus crosses par and then some. 

At par, you trade normal. 

Normal stop. 

Normal quantity. 

What is normal? 

Depends on you. 

What is normal for you? 

That’s what goes. 

Why the caution when below par? 

Lots works against you at this time. 

Sheer math for example. Downsizing sets this right. 

Emotions. 

Whoever’s got a remedy for those is king already. 

You. 

Your body-chemistry is affected. You’re sluggish. More prone to error. Nobody’s got a remedy for you, except you. Wait for your body to heal before trying out that perfect cover-drive, or what have you. 

Winning or losing in the markets depends a lot upon psychology, chronology, systems, strategy, application and adaptation of style. 

I like to call this “getting one’s meta-game together”. 

Let’s go people. 

Let’s get our meta-games together. 

Then we can scale it up. 

🙂 

When are you doing it Right?

There’s something called the Line.

You feel it.

It’s abstract.

You have to be its master.

Then, you’re doing it right.

Controlled, the line won’t disturb your life.

It’ll very probably add to your life, in terms of wealth.

If you let it control you, everything is finished.

Goodbye.

Life. Wealth. Peace of mind.

It pays to master the line.

How do you feel the line?

By being invested, or in a trade.

How do you master the line?

By being invested or in a trade, again and again, again and again, and then some. Simultaneously, you’re nipping your bad behaviour in the bud, while the line is on.

You control your temper. You don’t lose it.

You develop patience with loved ones.

You learn how to position-size the line, while winning or losing.

You attenuate all kinds of disturbance.

You keep going on and on like this, till one fine day, the line’s presence becomes a part of your life. Line-switch being on doesn’t change you or alter your behaviour in any negative manner anymore.

That’s when you’re doing it right.

Effects?

Trade on = like when trade was not on.

Investment? You’re not thinking about it.

You sleep well.

Good family life… not disturbed by the presence of the line.

Yeah.

Line.

Master it.

Dynamics of a Long-Long System

What if your system doesn’t allow you to second-guess yourself?

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful situation?

And you’d be right there, in the middle of it all.

What would such a system look like?

Right, it would only go one way.

Long-long. “A-la-la-la-la-long”, to quote Inner Circle!

Why aren’t we talking about a short-short system?

Theoretically, we could. Theoretically, everything is possible.

Well, a short-short system would have no limits on your potential loss, if the trade went against you. That’s the fundametal problem I have against a short-short system, without even having gone into the whole leverage discussion.

You could bring the stop argument.

Fine.

Just take a deep breath.

Think clearly.

Take a look at the average price-speeds of both directions, long and short.

The average price-speed in the short direction is far higher. Price-jumps are greater. The probability of your stop getting high-jumped over is much higher in the short direction. Frankly, that doesn’t work for me.

Also, which market allows you to set an overnight stop, barring the international forex market?. None that I know of, at least in India. No stops overnight means potential exposure to a large drawdown upon next market-opening, and here I’d like to be in a long-situation, because loss is capped.

Therefore, when we’re discussing a system that doesn’t allow us to second-guess ourselves, I will only discuss a long-long system.

What does long-long mean?

Yeah, we’re talking about a system, where you’re looking for long trades all the time. You don’t look for trades to go short in-between. There’s no shorting in the equation whatsoever. The moment you start thinking about shorting, you start second-guessing your long-approach.

What does that mean for someone applying such a system?

It means that the whole world might be crumbling apart, and one is still looking for long-trades. Yes, one could take some hits here. One just needs to make sure, that one’s consecutive drawdown doesn’t exceed a bearable level. Also, as losses might pile up, one position-sizes one’s way through. The concept ot position-sizing has been pioneered and elucidated by Dr. Van K. Tharp @ www.iitm.com.

It also means that when your underlyings start to run, you’ll be piling up winning trade upon winning trade.

The thing is, nobody knows when what is going to run. If you’ve taken all second-guessing out of your equation, you’re aligning yourself with the correct direction once things start to run. Going the other way now would mean further losses.

Then, it further means that if you lock in a big winner in a running market, your paper profits can now be used to harness even greater profits in the same trade. Such big winners provide a big boost to your trading corpus, and, in my opinion, are the difference between winning and losing in the markets. One needs to keep oneself aligned correctly when such opportunities come along. A long-long system will keep you aligned, no matter what.

You could argue about dry spells.

In any dry spell, or when markets are tanking, there are still underlyings that are going up. You just have to identify them. Today, such identification is not difficult at all.

For such identification, you need market software, a data feed, and an algorithm which defines what you are looking for. Your software then scans the entire breadth of the market you’re in to try and find what you’re looking for, and opens corresponding charts for you for underlyings that are still going up, or where there is buying interest, buying pressure, unusual increment in volume or what have you.

Don’t let the word algorithm scare you. You don’t have to learn a new programming language to put an algorithm together. Common-sense is enough. You know what you’re looking for. Let’s say what you’re looking for involves volume and price. You look inside your market software. Then you couple two algorithms together into a new algorithm which defines what you are looking for. You see, a typical market software like Metastock already uses algorithms for volume moving average, price etc., and these are visible to you. Just copy-paste and make a new algorithm that suits your purpose.

Lastly for today, decouple yourself from the market during trading hours, except when you’re feeding in the trade. Analyze your current trades when the market is closed. Intuitively, you will probably feel that your decisions during off-market hours will be better than when you’re coupled to a live market. Find out for yourself. More on this some other day.

Three Ways to Double Down

To win big as a trader, one needs to understand and implement a strategy of doubling down when things are looking good.

The difference between mediocre success and mega-success as a trader is linked to a trader’s ability to double down at the proper time.

We’ve discussed position-sizing. That’s one way to double down.

A day-trader, or a very short-term trader has the luxury of seeing one trade culminate and the next trade start off after the first one culminates at its logical conclusion. For most longer-term traders, many trades can be occurring simultaneously, because started trades have not yet come to their logical end, and new opportunities have cropped up before trades commenced have come to their logical end.

What do such traders do? I mean, they do not know the final outcome of the preceeding trades.

Yeah, how could such traders position-size properly?

Well, a trade might not have come to its logical conclusion, but you do know how much profit or loss you are sitting on at any given point of time. The calculation of the traded value for the next trade is simply a function of this profit or loss you are sitting on. Simple, right?

Well, what if you don’t like to position-size in that manner?

What if you say, that here I am, and I’ve finally identified a scrip that is moving, and that I’m invested in it, and am sitting on a profit. Now that I know that this scrip is moving, I’d like to invest more in this very scrip.

Good thinking. Nothing wrong at all with the thinking process.

You now pinpoint a technical level for second entry into the scrip. Once your level is there, you go in. No heavy or deep thinking required. As a trader, you are now accustomed to plunging after trade identification and upon setup arrival.

Question is, how much do you go in with?

Is your second entry a position-sized new trade? Or, do you see how much profit you are sitting on, and enter with the exact amount of profit you are sitting on? The latter approach is called pyramiding, by the way. Pyramiding is a close cousin of position-sizing. Normally, one speaks about pyramiding into one very scrip, when the trader buys more of that very scrip after showing a profit in that scrip. Once could, however, also pyramid one’s profits into different scrips.

When you’re pyramiding into one very scrip, you’re putting many eggs in one basket. Right, the risk of loss is higher. The thing going for you is that this risk for loss is higher at a time when your profits are up in a scrip that’s on its way up. Therefore, the risk during a downslide is higher, but the probability of that risk’s ability to result in an overall loss for you is lower than normal. You understand that you have balanced your risk equation, and with that understanding, you don’t have a problem putting many eggs in the same basket. After all, it’s a basket you are watching closely. Yeah, you know your basket inside out. You are mentally and strategically prepared to take that higher risk.

There’s yet another way to double down. I’d like to call this the “stubborn-bull trading approach”.

Let’s say you are sitting on a profitable trade. Yeah, let’s say you are deep in the money.

Now, a safe player would start raising the stop as the scrip in question keeps going higher and higher.

On the other hand, a trader with an appetite for risk could risk more and more in the scrip as it keeps going higher and higher – by not raising the stop, till a multibagger is captured. On the other hand, this trader would also be setting him- or herself up to give back hard-earned profits. Yeah, no risk – no gain.

What’s the difference between the stubborn-bull trading approach (SBTA) and investing?

When you’re adopting the SBTA, you’ll cut the trade once it loses more than your stop. You’ll sit on it stubbornly only after it has shown you multibagger-potential, let’s say by being up 20-50% in a very short time. You’ll keep sitting on it stubbornly till your pre-determined two-bagger, three-bagger or x-bagger target-level is reached. After that, you’ll start raising the stop aggressively, as the scrip goes still higher. Eventually, the market will throw you out of your big winning trade. You see, the SBTA strategy is very different from an investment strategy. For starters, your entry into this scrip has been at a trading level, not at an undervalued investment level. Undervalued scrips normally don’t start dancing about like that immediately.

Let’s be very clear – to reap big profits in the long run, you, as a trader, will need to adopt at least one of these doubling down strategies – position-sizing, pyramiding and / or the stubborn-bull trading approach.

Have a profitable trading day / week / month / career! 🙂

How Does One Position-Size?

What is the singular most lucrative aspect of trading?

Any ideas?

Want a hint?

Ok, here’s the hint. It is also the safest aspect of trading.

Give up?

Here’s the answer. It’s called position-sizing. (The pioneer of position-sizing is Dr. Van K. Tharp, @ www.iitm.com, and I have learnt this concept through him).

Surprised? I would be surprised if you weren’t surprised.

Yeah, trade selection is important too, but other things are more important while trading.

For example, trade management is more important than trade selection. So is exit. Entry might be paramount to an investor, but to the trader, entry is run of the mill. It happens day in, day out. The trader … just enters a selected trade. There’s no deep thinking involved. The trader knows this. Crux issues are to follow. The trader is saving his or her energies for the crux issues.

So far, we’ve spoken about the chronology of a trade, i.e. entry – management – exit.

Before entry, you decide how much you want to trade with, and how much you want to risk. That’s the size of your position, or your position-size. Remember, for the concept of position-sizing to make any sense, your stop-loss percentage must remain constant from trade to trade. Only your traded value goes up or down.

What does the level of your traded value depend upon?

It depends upon HOW WELL YOU ARE DOING.

If you’re on a roll, your traded value for the next trade goes up. The increment is proportional to the profits you are sitting on. Since the stop is a constant percentage, the amount risked is also higher. Return is proportional to the amount at risk, and the long-term net return of such a trade will also be higher. All this means, that the more you make, the more you set yourself up to make even more…!

Take a coin. Flip it millions of times. There will be a stretch, where you’ll flip tails 5 times in a row, or six times in a row, or maybe even ten times in a row. The 50:50 trade called “coin flip” can well result in a series of back to back losses. You are an experienced trader. Your trade selection ratio could be 60 winning trades to 40 losing trades, or perhaps a little better, let’s say 65:35. Even a trade selection ratio of 65:35 will result in back to back losses. As a trader, you need to take large drawdowns in your stride, as long as you are confident, that in the long run,  your system is working. What’s working in your favour during the large drawdown?

Your position-size is.

You see, as trade after trade goes against you, and your losses pile up, your position-size KEEPS GOING DOWN. Your stop percentage remains constant. This means, that the more you lose, the more you set yourself up to lose lesser and lesser, trade after trade. Yeah, position-sizing gives you the safety of losing less. Nevertheless, because of this safety assurance from your position-sizing strategy, you keep yourself in the market by just taking the next trade without too much deep thinking (and with no melancholy whatsoever), because your next trade could be the one decent trade that you are looking for. Yeah, your very next trade could cover all losses and then some. TAKE IT.

Now, two things can happen.

Firstly, if you keep losing, and hit your loss cut-off level for the month, well, then, you just stop trading for the rest of your month. You then spend the rest of the month reviewing your losses and your system. You tweak at whatever needs tweaking, and come back fresh and rested the following month. Position-sizing kept you in the market, ready to take the next opportunity to earn big. The auto-cut takes you out of the market for a while. That’s why, in my opinion, while position-size is still activated, it provides more safety, because it keeps you in the market to recover everything and then some, starting with your VERY NEXT trade. Having said that, auto-cut is auto-cut. It overrides position-sizing.

The second thing that can happen is that your losing streak ends before your month’s cut-off is reached. Yayyy, position-sizing is still activated! You’ve lost lesser and lesser on each losing trade as long as you were in the losing streak, and now that you are winning again, each win sets you up to win more in the trade that follows.

After many, many trades, just cast a glance at your trading corpus. It will boggle your mind!

Your position-sizing strategy has kept raising your corpus, because your system is 60:40+, and you win more than you lose. Ultimately, your corpus has become substantial. Its size exceeds your expectations BY FAR.

All thanks to position-sizing.