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Forex Trading Strategies – Make A Bet Not A Trade
Make A Bet Not A Trade
When it comes to trading my partner and I could not be more different. While I sit behind six computer screens eyeing every single headline that scrolls by as I watch prices move up and down tic by tic, she is perfectly content to follow the markets from her little MacBook Pro with only an occasional glance at the flow. Our reactions to trading are different as well. While she displays typical Asian equanimity whether we win or lose, I demonstrate all the histrionics of my Russian ancestry, my mood soaring or sinking with every change in price action like some maudlin character out of a bad Dostoevsky novel.
For a long time I didn’t appreciate the financial damage caused by my mood swings until I realized that during my bouts of anger I would inevitably resort to “revenge” trading which in turn would often decimate months worth’s of profits in a matter of hours. After my last trading binge I decided to try something different. I decided I would treat each position as a bet rather than as trade.
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This may sound like nothing more than an exercise in semantics but in fact it has proven to be a very powerful tool to correct my bad behavior. A trade implies an investment thesis behind the idea and once we begin to think in terms of economics the position inevitably turns into a battle of the wills between you and the market. Perhaps nothing is more painful in such a situation than being right on data and wrong on price – a dynamic that happens all the time on the speculative spectrum of the market where we operate.
This Tuesday’s USD/JPY call was a perfect example. We were completely correct in our analysis of US fundamentals but simply ran into a wave of risk buying that stopped out by a few ticks. A day later, the position was well in the money, but alas without us. The USD/JPY whipsaws occur all the time a speculative market like FX and if you do not learn how to emotionally cope with them they will ultimately destroy you as a trader.
This is where the gaming model can be helpful. For example everyone knows that poker is a game of luck as well as skill. Watch the World Series of poker and you will see even the greatest names in the game occasionally get taken out of the championship on a “bad beat”. “Bad beats” – a low probability event that sabotages your strategy -- are as common to speculative markets as they are to games of chance. Professional poker players are fully aware of this dynamic and rarely get upset when a well played hand goes wrong because of a bad beat.
Thinking of every new position as a bet rather than a trade puts you the realm of probabilities rather than economics which is the right place to be mentally. You stop “arguing with the tape” and hopefully move on to the next idea if the current bet does not pan out. Sometimes trading like poker is just a painful series of bad beats, but of you recognize that each position is just a bet rather than a trade you can survive even the most trying of drawdowns