Keep Calm and Don't Move Your Stops.....

A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning!

The Purpose of Life is Joy!!

Friday, December 30, 2016

No trading since the last post

Late nights do not make for good early it looks as though the trading range has compressed rather dramatically these last couple of days. Glad I've been sleeping in!

Back at it Tuesday though....

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

+6RR Today

I wasn't going to trade this week at all but my wife insisted. She said, its a work day, what else are you going to do all week.....and in the face of that logic, I agreed....but only on one condition....she didn't get upset if I had a losing week.....she agreed and here we are.

Very narrow range this morning. It was only 35 ticks when I got to the charts....but the conditions were good for a nice long....the 30M had broken long overnight and had retested the break out level about 30 minutes before I got to the charts so longs were the only trades allowed. Plus we were trading above last weeks VWAP, so everything looked good for a nice long trade.

I found the hidden support on the 15M chart, entered on the lower time frame, no heat at all, I bought the low tick of the pull back and off it went. I think my stop was 5 ticks on this one. Almost nothing.

I exited at 5RR as price stalled near my target. I knew it might not make it there due to overhead resistance on the 30M but as I write this, price has just reached that original target. I probably should have held it through the pull back but I was hungry and needed a shower since I overslept this morning. Regardless, I am happy with the results. Only 33 ticks to be fair but on a narrow day with only 5 ticks of risk, I will take a 6RR every day of the week.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Reflections 2016

Failure is an option. It is one among many options. In reflecting on this year, many things fall into the category of failure or at least not working out the way I would have envisioned. This post is going to detail a few of those things as well as offer a few thoughts on the upcoming year.

This year has been a year of frustration in terms of my trading. It has been a year of loss as only one year ago this month, I lost my mom and only two months ago my father who was one of my best friends passed as well. In addition to this, a number of personal aspirations which I've not previously mentioned here in the blog have not worked out well at all.

This year marks several years of loss. My business, my health, my parents, the fair weather friends that took off when the money dried up, trading, etc. It's been a tough few years and I'm mentally and emotionally tired.

A lot of these things began re-inserting themselves into my mind this last week and really began to assert themselves this weekend. I assume its the melancholy of the holidays without my parents. Nevertheless, the losses are real and the feelings are real.

With my fathers passing, both my wife and I have been chatting about seasons coming to an end and new seasons opening up. These last few years have been a season of loss, pain, frustration, humiliation and discouragement and yet even on the day we held my father's memorial, I felt a sense of relief or to put it another way, like his passing was the last of the past and the future began to open up. I have no way to really explain the sensation other than to say it was palatable.

As I set up my daughters new laptop today, I started thinking about all this loss and what it means for the future and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all loss is in the past. And then I stumbled on this  and realized that I am stronger than I have thought I am. I think I have the internal strength to not only survive the losses but to thrive in spite of them.

This started me thinking about the future and what I wanted for myself and my family. I came up with a few things.

  • Financial freedom. I am done being dependent on others including my wife's income but more specifically needing an employer to "approve" of me in order to earn a living. This isn't necessarily bad, most people need a job. But I no longer want that feeling of not being in control of my own destiny. I will be taking a job with a major bank in March to be their mortgage banking rep. This is something I can do in my sleep and will pay the bills for the foreseeable future or at least until I am consistent enough in trading to not worry about the income side of things. 
  • Geographical Freedom. This relates to the previous point. I intend to create enough financial freedom to allow my my family and I to reside or travel wherever, whenever we please. 
  • New traditions. As long as my parents were alive, my extended family participated in the traditions that revolved around my parents. This year, my extended family all elected to spend Christmas more or less isolated from everyone including each other. In some respects, I understand and respect that given we just spent the last few months joined at the hip in the hospital. However, I realize my parents traditions were not our traditions and I need to create our own for my family. I'll be working on this with my wife throughout the year. 
  • Activities away from trading. This has been a hard one but I think I have arrived at a reasonable conclusion. In 2017, once my degree is finished, I will attend the training to become a CASA. In Arizona, we have people that act as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. This person is the eyes and ears of the court on behalf of children in the foster care system. This is a volunteer child advocacy position. I also have an idea about working with a human trafficking organization but that one will have to wait for just a bit. 
  • Physical fitness. For me, this just means eating better although I've already begun this a few months ago. I've lost about 12 pounds just in adjusting the volume of food I eat. I'll add to this, some strength training as well as some yoga. I need this to strengthen my back but good physical fitness is important to trading as well. 
  • Reduce or eliminate negativity in my life. This includes politics, toxic people, non-essential possessions and any other thing that creates unwanted stress or negativity. 
  • Replace negativity and toxicity with good things. This includes great people, motivational and uplifting songs, books, videos, spirituality, etc. 
How does all this relate to trading? Well, trading is foundational to much of it. For financial independence as well as geographical freedom, I need to be a consistent profitable trader. And to be that, I need to finally learn how to work within my mental shortcomings to maximize my trading results. I think I have made some good progress on this in the last couple of weeks. 

So in terms of my trading, I continue to try to simplify things. It has come down to this:
  • Use a higher time frame, 30M up to 1 day to determine trend.
  • Find the most likely support or resistance to locate trades within that trend using either prior breakout levels or pull back levels. 
  • Use a 5M or 1M chart to minimize risk and confirm trend resumption on the entry
  • Hold for likely structural or fib based exits. 
  • Add to each viable trade as many times as possible inside the entry and exit locations minimizing risk on each add as though it were the first entry. 
  • Walk away when the trade is over. No need to over do it. 
That's it. Be mentally tough before, during and after the trade. Keep the future and what trading means to the future in mind as the inevitable emotions come crowding in during the trade. And lastly as Casey Neistat says, "Just do good work."

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Tuesday I didn't trade due to technical difficulties and yesterday I fought the tape all morning and ended up -.2RR.

This morning, I could not build a case for longs and in hindsight, I'm still having trouble figuring out how I could have built the case in the hour or so before the open. My lower time frame charts were all long just before the open but that didn't fit with the short premise I had built. First two trades were stop outs for -.125% each. I reversed my last short into a long just after the open and held for enough to recoupe the losses plus a bit. Finally price reached the weekly VWAP which happened to be yesterday's VWAP as well as the 50% pull back on yesterday's candle. Price stalled there and I got in very near the top. No heat, and produced a net of 3RR for today.

After the initial long which I didn't believe in, I figured it might reach the area where I eventually shorted, but there didn't seem to be any real reason for it and I could really figure out a way to get in without something like a 1% risk position and since I'm not doing that at the moment, I sat idly by as price ground up and eventually reached the level where I guessed it might go....but by then, I'd built a new short premise off that level which worked.

I'm about .25% away from being break even on the year. I'm not happy about that for sure, break even is better than losing but I'm also not really happy about not being up 50-100%. Going into next year, my goals are to just grind it out like I have been the last couple of weeks. However, I do plan to begin scaling into trades a bit more and let at least some of that position run on days where it looks like I might be able to get a runner. I want to see if I can get a 5-10RR day once in a while to help make up for the losing days that are sure to come.

Monday, December 19, 2016


The pic tells the story....but essentially I wanted to try to end the year on at least a break even note. Almost there...might trade tomorrow as well. I'm about 2RR away from it at this point.....I'm not going to push it though, I've seen what happens when I and others push to make a certain goal by a certain deadline. That usually ends in draw down. So more caution is in order....nothing fancy, just wait for the right areas and only trade if the conditions warrant it.

I finished my mortgage license continuing education yesterday, took the test and passed with flying colors. Now its time to renew the license. Will do that sometime this week once the CE company notifies the state of AZ. Now I have one last class to finish for my degree but it doesn't start until Jan 17th so I have nearly a month off from the books.

Doctors appointment in an hour and I need some food.


Friday, December 16, 2016

-..25RR......+2.88RR for the week

I was short bias going into the morning.....even though everything was screaming long. I had 4 trades, 3 short and one long.

Two of  the short trades stopped out for -.125RR and one at -.25RR and the winner was a 3RR trade. If I had held the third short at -.125RR and kept the long winner, would have been a slightly positive day.

That said, I'm happy with the net result for the week. Nearly 3RR after a month of doing nothing but losing every day. I'm not back to even for the year but close. I might extend my trading into next week and see if I can get the account to even on the year and prepare for next year. I'll chat with my wife about this and see what she says. She's super supportive of my trading and I try to include her in some of the strategic decisions.

I think I got the areas correct for the short but targets were misplaced. I was looking for these trades to pull back to VWAP. Was greedy with those. Almost all the shorts went my way at least ten ticks but when you are on the wrong side of the market, it doesn't matter. You are going to get stopped out.

You can see on the 30M chart why I was thinking short. It was a valid premise I think, just premature. Once price was NOT rejected firmly at that first resistance level, I should have really switched long for good but I didn't.

Most things went right this week. Some didn't. The most important thing though was my mind was right. I got my emotions mostly in line with my ambition and was able to wait for appropriate levels to trade and more importantly, wait for my 3RR targets to be met. There were several missed opportunities to be sure. But for now, I am working on making sure I do the right things over and over again. It's more important to have process and rules based wins than to win big dollars at this point. Keeping the losers tiny and letting the winners actually work out made a huge difference this week. I did add to one trade successfully and added to a couple others unsuccessfully. Those were small losers or scratches.

The one thing that did go wrong this week was I did choke off a couple of trades that were eventual 3RR winners at BE. Its a curse but it seems to crop up when I am most unsure of the trade premise. Going forward, I can reduce this by being better prepared, have solid trade premise ideas and commit to those fully.

Good week.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

+.83%....3.13% for the week

I was long biased during the pre-market hours. Took a long at VWAP/50% area for a quick .125% loss. Once it broke down, I was still long biased but quickly losing it. There was a support level that I took for a small scalp, basically enough to recover the earlier loser plus a few ticks.

Then I started looking for a decent pull back to get short off of and it never really came. So I eventually took a very shallow pull back with the same .125% stop on a VERY small time frame so I could dial in the risk as close as possible. No heat at all and it went to my 3RR target very quickly.

In hindsight, I should have just reversed my early long trade but I didn't have a plan for that and I didn't and don't chase.

I eventually took a long that scratched as I didn't really believe in it and finally took a small long back to VWAP for 1.25RR

Net today of .83%.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

+.55%....+2.30% for the week

Looks like price is still trying to close the huge gap from Sunday night. I woke up an hour early for some reason today, and was able to find a pull back short to the 50% level + VWAP. Didn't get filled at that exact level but pretty close.

Trade 1: Price went my way about 10-11 ticks and I added another lot to the trade and moved the stop to match the original risk. This stopped out after going about 5 ticks my direction and after I moved the stop to within a couple of tick of the blended entry. Price was stalling near the lows and I figured it was over so no sense in risking the entire thing. -.08% loss.

However, I should have left the stops alone, after taking my stop, price moved up a few more ticks and then reversed back down for at least enough to have gotten out BE. Which is producing the temptation to chase it. I'm going to resist the chasing temptation if it kills me.

Trade 2: Got another chance at the same price as the original trade. Took it with the same original risk. It basically tested what look like a double top. At least for now it is. Wait and see. Added to the trade once it got going. Potential 4RR trade if it goes to the 100% extension. Closed it out as it started stalling around the 52.00-51.95 area. 3RR. It hasn't made it to the 100% extension yet and it might not. Regardless, its going to do it without me.

Ok, not the best execution today but good enough to make .55%. I'm happy with that. Time to hit the books. Its only 6:20AM AZ time. Cash market isn't even open yet and the daily range is only 62 ticks. Making money in a narrow range. I like that even better.

Here is the 15M chart with my entry area highlighted in the pink circle. Two entries in there.

By the way, if you want to hear great trading stories and advice, go check out Trader Dante on you tube. Freaking funny and smart. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Missed the obvious trade at the top. The double top, yesterday's VWAP.....sheesh. It was a "money in the corner" trade. Got there just a bit to late. Tried to fill one but it just wouldn't go back there...almost but not quite. Watched a 4X trade happen without me. 

Trade 1: 1.5RR Got long at the 50% pull back + VWAP. Exited as it begin to stall.

Missed a 3RR trade off the VWAP as it tested it for the second time but I was less sure this time around and slowly shifting my bias short. As price tested the break down area near the high, I shifted completely to short. 

Trade 2: Entered short and was rewarded with an exit back at VWAP for 3RR. It's still going as I write this but the VWAP exit was the planned exit as I was sure it would make it there but past that, I didn't really have a good plan for anything more and I'm pleased with the trade planning and execution overall so good day today. 

Just a side note. I'm watching this 15M chart but using a much smaller time frame for entries to help keep the risk small. That one is pretty messy so I'm only posting these 15M charts so show th elevels and my thinking. 

Done for the day. Time to hit the books. 

Total for the day +.75% 

Monday, December 12, 2016

+.50%. &.....+.50%......1.0% for the week

Lets think about this for a minute. I'm down around 5% over the last month. That's more than I want to see gone in a single month. But the truth is, its worse than it should have been had I reduced size quicker and better than what it probably would have been had I not simply stopped trading when I reached -1.0% for the day.

I've reduced size to a single lot going forward with a max risk per trade of .25%. However, today's actual risk was .125%. I held for 3X on this and ended the day with .50% return on capital. There was a few more ticks to be had on that trade but the planned exit worked well for me.

Honestly, the reduced size and the tiny risk made holding the trade much easier. Granted it wasn't a 100 tick win but I don't care. If I replicate this day over and over again, soon I will have regained all of the draw down and back toward building the account. That's all I care about at this point. Just slow steady returns over time and increase size when I'm comfortable with the increased risk.

A half percent per day is 10% per month. Assuming only ten months of the year traded that is 100% return over the year. Not bad for barely risking anything. I need to keep this in mind every day. Tiny risk, hold for at least a 3X multiple of risk and be satisfied with the baby steps. Occasionally conditions will present themselves where a 100 tick win is probable. I'll try to take those but honestly, I'll probably miss those. I'm not geared to look for those very often. They happen every week but my brain isn't wired like that for now.

I think I'm just going to be happy banging out .5 and 1.0% days for a while.

EDIT: 12:00 NOON. AZ TIME. There was a 100 tick move that began around 8AM my time. I'd left the office by then. Had I been here, I doubt I would have seen this developing and even if I had, I'm not sure I would have or could have taken it due to risk....might have had to look at a very small time frame to make this happen. Any way, here it is.

EDIT: 3:30 AZ TIME. After my last post, I started noticing the order flow was still quite active so I decided to see if there was any more left in the tank. I've also noticed near the close of the day, price tends to put in some large bars one way or the other. So I took a small risk, less than .125% was stopped out to the tick. I waited for another pull back, got in near the top of the pull back and rode it for enough to cover the stop out plus 3X on the current risk. Net for the day. 1.0% 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

-1.0%....-2.0% for the week

Yesterday, I was short early on a breakout pull back that stopped out immediately. Then long after a pull back. Actually bought the low tick of the pull back which was nice....but it stopped at BE after a long hold. Then got long again with another BE.....and finally a long with a small stop out.....First trade was full size, remainder were one lot trades.

Next week is my last trading week of the year. I plan to reduce size to a single lot on all trades. This will result in about a .25% risk per trade. I'll only risk .5% per day so essentially one or two trades a day.

I have finals next week and I have to renew my mortgage license before the 19th which is about 8 hours of continuing ed before I can renew.

Once next week is over, I'll be off for the remainder of the year. January 1st I start studying for the CLEP test I need to finish my degree. One last thing and something I've chased for 30 years will finally be done. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it but I'll have the piece of paper I've wished I had all these years.

Going into January, I'll be staying with the .25% risk per trade and I'll leave it at that until I am winning again. Further, I will only be trading from 6AM to about 7:30AM....this is basically to begin ramping up for what my schedule will be when I start work at the bank in a couple of months. When I get to that point, I want to be dialed into the new routine. So this means whatever I get in that period of time is what I get for the day.

From this point forward, my trading will be about building the account vs earning a living from it. Earning a living from trading has been almost impossible. Stability is more important. If the account gets large enough so that I can make monthly or annual withdrawals without endangering my ability to trade large enough size to cover the monthly nut, then I will consider quitting the day job.

And so a new season begins.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

-1.0%.....-1.0% for the week

So today was a fail in the sense that I made the same mistake twice. I was long with a ten tick stop but needed 11-12 ticks. I thought I had moved it the needed couple of ticks but when I turned loose of the mouse, I guess I moved my hand or something. Anyway, I had a ten tick stop, which got hit almost immediately. Thing was though, it was to the very tick. Exactly ten ticks. The premise of the trade was still valid so I took it again. With the same ten tick stop thinking now way it revisits that level again.....sure enough, another exactly ten tick stop out....on the very next bar.

First trade was with full size resulting in a .50% loss, second time was with a single lot bringing me to about .70% loss. After a bit, a double top formed and I got short after it stalled and that did a one tick wonder and reversed for another quick hit. Total now is about -.85% plus commissions and I'm getting close to -1.0%. Finally decided it would go back to the weekly VWAP at 50.89 and got long on the break of the double top but that is not in my trade plan and the risk was very high in terms of ticks so I just closed it out at +1 or 2 ticks. Net after commissions was about -.95% so I've rounded to -1.0% to keep it even.

Pass or fail. Direction, pass. Entry locations, pass. Planned exit locations, Still unknown but I think a pass. Stop Execution, FAIL.

I've made some charting changes after watching the last few days. I've reduced my input to three charts. A daily with trend indicator, a 30 minute with the same trend indicator plus weekly VWAP denoting value areas and a 5 minute with the same trend indicator. The idea is to simply trade in the higher time frame trend direction.

Today the 30 minute chart was in potential reversal mode while the 5 minute chart was in full long mode. My first trade was a short that went around 10 ticks or so but because the 30M was in transition, I elected to move to BE and let it play out. I had a feeling the buying I saw come in was real and would drive price up beyond the 5M break down zone and it did.

After that, longs only until it started looking weak again. This idea was wrong and had I not been stupid with the stop placements earlier, I would have still been in the longs and let the short idea pass me by. I think so anyway.

Regardless, I feel better about the WAY I lost today than I have in the past. Two reasons, I was reading the market much better where last week and the few weeks prior, I've felt sort of blind to what the market wanted to do and secondly, the losses were execution errors and not analysis errors. Both of these are encouraging to me as I've been loosing due to analysis errors a lot lately which has certainly affected my ability to hold a trade long enough to have it play out.

As I'm writing this, the longs seem to be working and there was a chance to get in but at -1.0% for the day, I am done. I will not go on a losing binge and blow out 2-5% in a single day. I would puke my guts out over that I think.

Almost done with school. I have 2 weeks left for the class I am in, then I have to study for a CLEP test and then I am done. Should be finished with the degree sometime in Feburary. Its been 30 years in the making and I am looking forward to it being complete!

Once that is finished, I have to study for my continuing education test to renew my mortgage license. Everything is on hold in that arena until its done. Should be done sometime the week of the 19th I think.

All the christmas shopping is done with the exception of two small gifts for the niece and nephew. I hate christmas shopping and so does my wife so we do it throughout the year when there are sales. Usually we are done by Thanksgiving.

We will probably go to San Diego for the New Year, they are having a large firewords display this year and we all love fireworks. Should be fun!

One last thing, I passed 50,000 page views on my blog yesterday. Not sure who's reading but since I don't promote it or link to it anywhere, I guess thats kinda cool. It means nothing other than a few people like watching me struggle!

Take care. One more trading day in the week.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Another day watching

Spent the morning watching price action. I didn't even open my charts. I watched the delayed feed on tradingview to avoid all temptation.

It was a brilliant day to trade crude oil. A single directional move beginning in the pre-market. There was some back and forth later on but the intent was always short. Price respected the levels quite nicely. It seems to do this when I'm not trading. The market makers must know I am on the sidelines or something.

But honestly, it felt good to just sit and watch. No pressure, no need to make lots of decisions. Just watch and monitor price. I suspect that's how I need to feel with money on the line....easier said than done.

Tomorrow I think I will dip my toe back into the water....see what the market offers tomorrow. I am watching 49.21 as a possible end to the short movement. At least temporarily.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Old News is New News

I've taken three days off so far. Probably going to take another 1-2 days this week. Been looking for answers as to why I am losing.

Turns out its pretty simple.

Fomo, greed, ego.

These manifest themselves almost exclusively in choking off trades that are winners.

The fomo works like this. I am in a winning trade, its gone 15-20 ticks my favor but I have a planned exit at 55 ticks based on structure. I move to BE. Price takes me out and then goes to the original target. This happens a lot. Combine that with the normal distribution of losers and you are no longer a break even trader or a winning trader. You are losing. This is a drain on mental capital as well. Much frustration results from this behavior.

The greed looks like this: I am in a winning trade. Its gone nearly all the way to my planned exit. I get greedy and extend the exit by another 50 ticks, price reverses and takes me out at a break even or some other much smaller gain.

Ego looks like this: I have had  a losing day so far for whatever reason. I rationalize that I am good enough to make it back so I keep trading. This works just enough to re-enforce this bad behavior. Or worse, I increase size to make it back. I don't do this often but once in a while it does happen. It happened last week.

Of these three, the FOMO is by far the largest reason I am not making money like crazy. In my battle to end this behavior, I have over the years vacillated between trading small size and looking for big winners and trading larger size and looking for more smaller winners.

The answer of course is to just put on the trade and walk away. But when I do this, invariably I get stopped out and some other larger move happens just before I get back to the computer.

So when I get back to the charts for real, my plan for the remainder of the year and for next year is simply to avoid moving stops at all. Just let the trades play out. I'll watch videos, read, whatever, but if I am to make a long term career out of this, I need to solve this issue pretty darn quick.

My year will end on December the 16th. I will not be trading past that date and I will resume on January 2nd, 2017.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

-1.0%...-2.67% for the week

Long early well before the open. Out for only 10 tens. It went 130 after I exited.

Short around the open. Scratched a couple, lost a couple. Got long, stopped again only to see profit target zone met a couple of bars later.....short after a long time, stopped to the tick then price went to target, the ORH.

Somethings not working. Just losing right now. Gonna step back for a day or two and see if I can figure it out....