The Three Biggest Lies Traders Tell You

Boris SchlossbergWith all the financial information, tips, and advice out there, how do you know which ones are really good…or even true?

Well, in this article, I will try to answer these, one “untruth” at a time.

1. Trade with a Positive Risk Reward Ratio

It has been my experience, that of all the lies taught in trading, this is perhaps the worst…mainly because it sounds so reasonable. Who wouldn’t want to risk $1 to make $2? You only need to be right 40% of the time to win! It’s such a seductive pitch. Too bad it’s one of my “untruths”.

Maybe that approach works on swing trading (which is much more like a lottery type business model); let’s face it, if you can catch one good trend, it can make your entire year! But the truth is, that positive risk/reward model rarely works in day trading. You need superhuman timing skills and it’s almost impossible to maintain your skill/luck over the long term.

What works in day trading is forgiveness. You need to give yourself lots of room to be wrong. You need to create more than one opportunity to resolve the trade profitably. And most importantly, you need to trade with a very, very, very negative risk to reward ratio.

I know. One trade. JUST ONE LOSING TRADE…and you will blow a week’s worth of profits. Well yes that’s an extreme you probably don’t want to reach. That is probably too negative a risk to reward ratio.

But one losing trade for two days of profits, is actually quite doable. In my room, I have guys who have gone two, three, even three and a half weeks without hitting a losing trade.

In the month of June, I managed to lose money on only two trading days… banking 10% for the month! So trust me, it IS possible. The key to day trading isn’t cutting your losers short and letting your profits run – it’s making sure that you can resolve each trade with either a profit or a scratch.

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2. When You are in a Losing Streak, the Most Important Thing to Do is Stick to Your Strategy!

This statement is yet another platitude that sounds great when you hear it, but crumbles under the pressure of real trading conditions. When you lose money, the greatest damage done is not to your account, but to your psyche.

There is nothing so fragile as a male ego (since 95% of traders are men let’s just focus on the lesser sex for this one). The moment Bad investingyou lose, you damage your confidence. I remember in the late 1990’s when I was trading stock index futures, I lost 18 straight trades in a row, and stopped trading after that for more than 2 years.

I followed all the rules. I stuck to my strategy and I basically wound up abandoning the markets because I destroyed the most important thing a trader has – his sense of self.

So no. When you are on a losing streak, the most important thing is not to follow your strategy. The most important thing to do is to win.  If your strategy calls for a 10 pip take profit, and you are 5 pips in the money – take it. Do that two, three, or four times in a row until you have your mojo back.

Those trades do not matter. They are not part of your “sample”. You don’t use them to evaluate the long term statistical viability of your strategy. They are there for one purpose only – to make you a winner and to get you comfortable with taking risk again. Which brings me to my third biggest untruth.

3. Strategies Matter.

Strategies do not matter at all. All strategies can be divided into two simple trades – mean reversion or momentum. Everything else is tactics. Which is why the best traders in the world never really follow rules, but rather establish guidelines and constantly adjust against those parameters.Young businessman checking mark on checklist with marker. Isolat

In my trading room, we have a great mean reversion strategy. It works more than 90% of the time. Yet, not one trader follows it exactly to the tee.

Everyone has their own variations…not only in tactics, but in trade selection, time selection and currency pair selection. That’s why I laugh when I see people jealously guarding their “secret” strategy. They may as well guard air – it’s just as pointless.

In my opinion, sharing your ideas will help them (and you) get better. If you hoard them, they inevitably get worse.

Until next time,

Boris Schlossberg

Mr. Schlossberg is  the managing partner at BKForex  and creator of the new course The ULTIMATE Forex Trading Course produced in conjunction with Weiss Educational Services. He is also a weekly contributor to CNBC’s Squawk Box and a regular commentator for CNBC Asia and CNBC Europe. His daily currency research is quoted by Reuters, Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Agence France Presse newswires and appears in numerous business publications and newspapers worldwide. Mr. Schlossberg has written articles on trading for SFO magazine, Active Trader and Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities. He is the author of Technical Analysis of the Currency Market and Millionaire Traders: How Everyday People Beat Wall Street at its Own Game, both of which are published by Wiley. Boris’ extensive experience in trading and developing momentum based techniques provide the foundation for BKForex strategies.