“It's a fundamental shift in attitude that accounts for their success, not some brilliant realization about the market, as most people erroneously assume. This erroneous assumption is prevalent among traders simply because very few of them really understand, at the deepest levels, just how critical a component attitude is in determining one's success.”

August 12

11 trades / +15.50pts / +$255 net

I tried something on Friday that was a complete bust. Then yesterday (Monday) there were system-wide issues with my sim platform, so I didn’t do any trading.

However, over the past few days I’ve been doing a lot of work in an attempt to modify my attitude about my trading, and I think that it had a lot to do with my results today.

I won’t get too deep into this today because I don’t have time, but I’m realizing some of the things that I’ve been doing that I think have been causing me so much trouble.

A short list (a couple of friends will recognize that these are not new for me):
  • Being overly simplistic (and mechanical). Expecting one method or approach to always “work,” rather than using a more holistic approach.
  • Micro-managing (strangling) my trades rather than allowing for some “wiggle room” as price moves in my general direction.
  • Having a myopic view of price action rather than looking at a little bigger picture and using context to help me.
  • Always using the same profit targets rather than letting some trades run when it appears that they could.

I’m posting my 1m bar chart, but it is by no means the only thing that I used to make my decisions today.

August 07

-4.50pts / -$145 net

Today is a perfect example of the kind of days that sink me. Granted the early part of the session was difficult because price just ranged back and forth, but I didn’t handle it well.

It seems that my basic M.O. in situations like this is that when I get stopped on the first trade I decide that I was wrong about direction and that I need to make sure I get into the move that will surely be going the other direction. I do that and then get stopped again.

After I’m whipped back and forth a few times, and find myself in a deep hole, I start extending the targets on my next trades to try to make up for the losses I’ve incurred up to that point. But that causes me to avoid solid profits that are available, and then when price doesn’t reach that distant target and comes all the way back to my stop, I’ve missed out on some good profits.

This also leads to missing things that I would normally see. Things like I spoke of yesterday for example – when price moved back into the OR from below around 08:54, it moved to the other side to test ORH. On trade #7 (first reasonable trade) I got in near ORL and I should have taken profits at ORH, but I didn’t because I was sure that price was going to continue higher to test YH (yesterday’s high).

I also have a plan for trailing my stops, but half of the time I avoid using it because I don’t want to get stopped out prematurely. This does happen, but it seems that when I decide not to follow that plan, that’s when I really should have.

I also think that I’m trying to look at too many things. I like the idea of the Bollinger Band charts, but I think I need to step back a little and keep things simpler.

It’s funny (I guess) that none of this is new to me (or others probably), and yet I’m still having to repeat it.

I won’t do a trade-by-trade for today because most of my early trades were just reactionary. However, on my charts I’ve marked my “dumb” trades in black, and my “reasonable” trades in normal colors.

My last 5 trades were mostly appropriate and they’re basically how I should be approaching things right now.

August 06

+2.50pts / +$30 net

08:31 Long. Reversal. First 1m bar of the session spiked through the LBB and ONL, and finished as a doji.
08:31 Stopped out. -2.00pts.
Ugh. I tightened my normal stop up and it was hit. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been stopped out of the trade.

08:32 Long. Same entry level and reasoning as Trade #1. But this time I placed my target at the next level above (3855.75), which was a triple top (TT) that formed between 05:30 and 8:00 this morning on my 5m chart.
08:34 Stopped out. +0.50pts.
Price had already moved 3.50pts in my favor so I moved my stop to above my entry. Things were moving pretty fast though so I didn’t realize it at the time, and although OR wasn’t quite complete yet, price had pulled back down to the midpoint of the current range (which would become ORM), stopped me out, and found support there. Price then turned and moved right up to my original target.

08:47 Long. The move up was already extended and I wouldn’t normally want to buy again, but price had broken above the 5m TT and then pulled back to it. I was concerned that I might be getting suckered because price had spiked and pulled back 2 bars prior (1m), so I kept my normal 3.00pt target which was just above that spike. I was also concerned because the 1m UBB had been pierced pretty convincingly, but on the 5m price was making a pretty strong bar and not spiking through the UBB as much.
08:48 Target reached. +3.00pts.
Price pulled back right after my entry and I thought I was going to get stopped out, but it turned around and ran right to my target.

09:37 Short. I had already decided to be done for the day, left my desk for a few minutes, then when I came back and saw this, I got impulsive and just placed the order. I knew it right away and moved my target to +1.00pt.
09:38 Got lucky on this exit. +1.00pt.

That’s it for today. Tiny profit and I didn’t trade as well as I could have, but for now I’ll be considering any day a win if it’s a day that I don’t get carried away and chop myself up.

August 05

My sim account expired over the weekend, and I wasn't able to get it reactivated until late in the day, so I didn't take any trades yesterday.

I don't know if I'll keep doing this, but today I'm going to post my journal notes along with my charts. My journal notes describe to myself why I did what I did, but I'm still struggling, so take whatever I say here with a grain of salt and do your own research.

I'm doing this in large part to see if it will help me to be more selective about my trades and focus more on being profitable (in sim) at the end of the month, as opposed to just taking a trade every time the market looks like it's going to go in one direction or another – which is what I seem to have been doing lately.

I've put together some notes to explain the markings on my charts as well as the abbreviations I use in my journal notes:

The brown dashed lines are levels I've marked from my higher timeframe (HTF) charts (15m and 60m+).
The black dashed lines represent the high and low of the first 5 minutes of the session. This is my opening range. ORH = Opening Range High, ORL = Opening Range Low.
The grey dashed line centered between the black lines is the middle, or midpoint, of my opening range. ORM = Opening Range Mid.

Also, ONH = Overnight High, ONL = Overnight Low, DT = Double Top, DB = Double Bottom.

First chart:
Because I have a friend who's used them in the past*, and I know of another trader who still uses them**, I've been experimenting with Bollinger Bands (settings are shown on the chart). I also use candlesticks on this chart. I don't necessarily use candlestick patterns, but they do give me a different view of the price bar. UBB = Upper Bollinger Band, LBB = Lower Bollinger Band.
I also plot a 21-period exponential moving average on this chart. EMA = 21-period exponential moving average.

Second chart:
My second chart is a simple OHLC bar chart and I mark it using SLA.*** Blue lines are “demand lines,” and pink lines are “supply lines.” DL = Demand Line, SL = Supply line.

I use 1m and 5m charts to make my entry decisions. I've only posted my 1m charts, but my 5m charts are set up identically to my 1m.

Everything I've described above is subject to change as I try to learn what works for me and what doesn't.

Now my journal notes:

+6.50 pts / +$120 net.

08:32 Short. Pierce of 1m and 5m UBB's and test of marked level.
08:32 Target reached. +3.00pts.
Price moved down quickly after my entry and hit my target in less than a minute. Target happened to be 1 tick above next marked level (which was ONL). After I was out price reversed hard creating offsetting candles.

09:10 Long. Pierce of 1m LBB and retest of lows creating 1m DB 6 minutes earlier, move up through EMA, hesitation at ORL then break above. I've noticed a tendency for NQ to move all the way to the other side of the OR once it's broken back inside of it, so that's what I was looking for.
09:11 Initially my target was ORH, but when price didn't look like it was going to power higher like I thought it would, I moved my target to ORM.
09:12 Target reached. +3.50pts.
Ultimately price did stay above ORL and then finally worked its way up to ORH. I wouldn't have been able to hold through that chop, but there you go.

* See JMF3's blog.
** See James's blog.
*** See my Knowledge Base page and look for “DbPhoenix / (SLA).”

TopstepTrader Combine #5 Actual Final Results

TopstepTrader Combine #5 Finished

Combine #5 is actually complete this time. After stopping about a month ago, I changed my mind and decided to continue on with it since I still had access to the account.

I didn't improve the results, but I did get more experience.

I've already started working in my Stage 5 sim account again, and when I feel like I'm in a better position I'll start another Combine.

Combine Equity Curve Comparison

Here’s the chart I’m using to compare the results of my Combines. This Combine still comes in as the worst of the bunch.

Final Trading Stats Grid for Combine #5:

Final Trade by Trade Chart for Combine #5:

Final daily P&L Chart for Combine #5:

August 01

Sim: +9.50pts / +$90 net.


It's infinitely easier to mark up my charts when I've traded appropriately. Marking my charts when I've done what I did today is excruciating, but necessary.

I did so many stupid things before 10:00 (see vertical line on both charts). It was because I was operating mostly by the seat of my pants, without a clear idea of direction, and chasing price (see first chart).

So I changed charts (see second chart) and went back to drawing supply and demand lines the way I've learned to in the past. Fortunately the market was still moving well and I was able to catch some of it and get back into profitability for the day.

July 31

Sim: +3.50pts / +$55 net.

Along with being disappointed about my trading, I've been very busy with other work, so I probably won't be making a final post about Combine #5 until this weekend.

I had planned to take some time off from trading to clear my head, but I found myself very unhappy. So for the time being, I won't start another Combine, but I will do some trading in my Stage 5 sim account.

I don't have a specific plan for my trading at this point, but I'm going to post my sim results (as my stomach allows) along with the charts I'm using at the time.

Today my attitude was that I didn't care if I took a trade or not. I planned to spend an hour watching the market and then be done.

My first trade was a reversal off of one of my marked levels – it happened to be the overnight low. Right now my target is 3.00pts, and price reached it.

My second trade was an attempt to catch what I thought was going to be a break lower into the next level(s) below. Price had made several attempts to move higher in the session but was running into resistance from the HTF downtrend that was still in place. I was stopped out to the tick before price went back in my direction.

My third trade was very late and risky, but price was powering lower. My target was reached within seconds. Finished for the day.

TopstepTrader Combine #5, Day 20

Combine #5, Day 20: +6.50pts / +$35 net.
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