I love to trade a lot – which is of course a euphemistic way of saying I love to gamble. Although I have been to Vegas more than a dozen times I never laid down so much as a dollar bet in any casino. I have absolutely no interest in backjack, craps, slot machines or any other games of chance and I look down with disdain at the excited masses crowding the cavernous Vegas gambling halls. But deep down, if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that whenever I trade a lot I am just as much of a sucker as every hopeless loser that gives up his hard earned money to Steve Wynn or Sheldon Adelson
If you are constantly trading just for the sake of trading, just for the rush of being “in the game”, just for the momentarily thrill of being right you are gambling. You are trading without an edge, without any solid information and are therefore completely vulnerable to the random vagaries of price.
Towards the end of last year I decided to do something about my toxic addiction and created two separate accounts – one for trades that would only follow my trading plan – the other for all my trading/gambling impulses. But before I share my experience with you allow me to define the difference between a trade and a gamble. The key distinction is information. The less information you posses the more likely the chances are that your trade is gamble.
A techincal trader who only looks at the five minute chart to gauge his support and resistance points is just gambling. On the other hand a trader who looks through the hourly, daily, weekly and monthly support points, carefully calculates Fib retracement positions and only acts when multiple time frames confirm his analysis has a much greater chance of success. Similarly a fundamental trader who mindlessly reacts to the latest economic release without understanding the prior market expectations, the current price flow and and countervailing information on the other currency in the pair is also just gambling.
Notice the unifying theme? Like everything else in life success in trading requires hard work and homework. There is no magic formula, no simple 5 minutes per day method to make you money. In trading, working hard is no guarantee of winning, but not working hard is an assurance of losing, because trading at its core is a game of information and you must always be up to date on what’ s gong on in the market or become the sucker at the table.
Now back to my experiment. I subdivided my trading into two accounts – one where I traded only calendar risk on a reactive basis with very disciplined entries and exit rules and strict adherence to money management. The other account was just for my whims and impulses. An interesting thing occurred. My “trading plan” account which I traded far rarely and more carefully became much more profitable and incurred much lower drawdowns. Meanwhile the equity in my gambling account bounced up and down like a hopped up rubber ball. Suddenly the thrill of “being in the game” wasn’t so much fun. Like a reformed smoker who appreciates the smell of fresh air, I was no longer drawn to making impulsive trades. That’s not completely true. I still dabbled in my gambling account (who amongst us can completely give up our vices?) but my need to trade constantly has been reduced substantially. The less you gamble, the more you realize how stupid it is and that has been the most valuable lesson learned so far.