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Firm Biz

How "complex" is Your Trading System?

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So I've had the dream of day-trading for over 10 years and have casually been researching it in that time frame. Several months ago I found myself with more than the needed 25k (~75k) to be a day trader and have begun the process of actively working toward that goal. I set up an account with TOS, loved the system, not the comissions so I switched to MB trading. Their commissions were better but fill price and customer service was a joke so I am switching to a lightspeed/Esignal solution and probably keep MB as a secondary broker. I also obtained a powerful PC w/ 3 large monitors so I'm set for tools. I've studied the psychology of trading and am confident I know what is needed mentally to win, I'm also confident I know general trading principles that are needed to win. I userstand excecuting on this knowledge is a different story.

 

I trade qqq exclusively since I like it's price, liquidity, and speed/level of volatility. I may add another stock later but am undecided... Something like appl which is similar to qqq but seems to be more volatile.

 

So my question is specific to the trading SYSTEM you use - that is buy, sell, hold signals. How complex is it? How often do you see these signals? When I was starting I tried trading simple MACD crosses (modified) but found that taking each opportunity was guaranteeing faliure... So adding in a pieces to the system such as only trading with prevailing trend and only trading after the price has broken out of a range lowered those opportunities but they were still too numerous to be successful without a very good system of exit.

 

How simple or complex is your system? I am still honing in on a system for me that would work well day trading qqq. Any system-related insights are very appreciated and would be very helpful.

 

Not sure how green this post makes me look, I am definitely new to this but have treated trading like a FT job with the ammount of time I have given it recently so in spite of my newness I know I have the intelligence, drive, determination and passion for trading to be successful at it - I may need some help along the way, so if anyone is willing to provide insights beyond what they would post here - feel free to pm me. I saw a post a while ago about the 38 steps to becoming a day trader or something like that and I've been through most all of those steps so I know I'm not far off and am lightyears ahead most wide eyed newbs.

 

Thanks all!

 

Firm

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Firm,

 

The crowd will tell you "as simple as possible"

A few will tell you complex 'problem' require complex 'solution'

My thoughts -

Your edges should be as simple or complex as you personally need them to be to stay true to your own nature.

Find your own way!

 

Have you read http://www.traderslaboratory.com/forums/f37/edge-first-integration-first-both-first-8410.html ?

Applying is not easy at all - but you may be ready...hth

 

All the best

zdo

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I trade qqq exclusively since I like it's price, liquidity, and speed/level of volatility.

 

I may add another stock later but am undecided... Something like appl which is similar to qqq but seems to be more volatile.

 

So my question is specific to the trading SYSTEM you use - that is buy, sell, hold signals. How complex is it? How often do you see these signals?

 

How simple or complex is your system? I am still honing in on a system for me that would work well day trading qqq. Any system-related insights are very appreciated and would be very helpful.

 

It might be helpful to start thinking from the other end:

 

Trading is competitive.

When you are starting a trade you are trying to take money from other people.

Also keep in mind that you are now swimming in a pond together with some people (big companies like GS and many others) that make big efforts (very clever people, enormous computing power, best data feeds, ultrafast connections) to take every penny out of the market.

 

Then it might be helpful to think about the instrument you are trading.

QQQ is running parallel directly with NQ futures and (not so exactly) with many other futures.

Therefore if you'd manage to find an edge in QQQ that would mean GS (and the other sharks) left big amounts of money on the table.

 

If people say "I have a simple profitable system" that would mean the big trading departments with their huge budgets simply overlooked something very obvious and simple. Decide for yourself the probability that this happens.

 

To start trading in my view it's advisable to look at single instruments that are traded with some (but not too big) liquidity.

Big liquidity means extreme competition!

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thanks for the responses guys. Uex - I appreciate your insights on QQQ, I hadn't considered this before, hadn't heard it before but it makes sense. That is essentially where I'm getting hung up - I've been infatuated with QQQ due to its liquidity -- but I am struggling mightily to find an edge that works consistently.

 

I find one that could be profitable, even ultra-profitable but only for days possibly a week or so at a time, then it turns wildly unprofitable and yields consistent losers. Your logic makes sense.

 

Anyone have suggestions of some stocks I should consider or any other insights to get me on the right track? Perhaps what level of volume I should look for - volume where I would find stocks that aren't so liquid the competition its too fierce but liquid enough that it is day-tradable?

 

Thanks,

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Thanks for the responses guys. Uex - interesting points on QQQ, I haven't heard that POV or thought it myself. All I ever hear is the more liquid the better. It makes sense that at some point the liquidity would turn against you.

 

That logic would explains my current struggles. I have found "edges" (if it could even be called that) in QQQ that hold up, but only for a period of days or maybe weeks... then it turns around and yields consistent losers, even in the same general market type - leaving me baffled.

 

Do you have any suggestions of some stocks I should be looking at? Or even perhaps a range of ideal volume for day trading within which I should be looking at stocks?

 

Thanks again, any insights/thoughts to help me get on the right track is greatly appreciated!

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When I was starting I tried trading simple MACD crosses (modified) but found that taking each opportunity was guaranteeing faliure

Firm

 

If that was guaranteed failure, then would doing the exact opposite be guaranteed success? The point I'm trying to make, is that traders must fight the impulse to act in ways that seem right when you find out that those impulses and strategies are wrong.

 

Seriously, consider what would happen if you did the exact opposite of what you thought would make money. The point is, to think in different ways.

 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If trading in a way that seems "right" always looses you money, then maybe we all need to be very, very wrong. :rofl:

 

If you find a system that will loose money 100% of the time, guaranteed, please let me know what it is, so I can do the exact opposite. ;) I'll give you 80% of the profits, and just take 20% for trading the system.

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What moves price? Volume? Big players? Yes, but that's just superficial. Volume happens because decisions were made. Big players enter because decisions were made. What were those decisions based on? The QQQ tracks the Nasdaq 100. What affects the Nasdaq 100? Do the QQQ's track the NQ emini? What affects the NQ emini? What are the inputs to the NQ emini? If you chart the QQQ and the NQ, they are practically identical. The NQ is an index. It MUST do what the Nasdaq 100 does. So whatever those 100 stocks do, AS A GROUP, that is what the NQ MUST DO. It's an index, it must be indexed to the Nasdaq 100. What are the inputs to the the NQ?

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The complexity of your system is totally dependent upon how many inputs you want in your system. And how many inputs you add to your system, determines how complete the "puzzle" is, and how complete your understanding of the market is. If you leave something out, then you are missing a piece to the puzzle. If you look at price levels, but don't pay attention to the news, then you have a simpler system. That simpler system might be inferior, depending upon when you choose to trade. If you use a system that does not look at the news, then you are better off trading when there is no news, or no high impact news. Do you want a simpler system that limits you, but is easier to manage, and easier to begin trading with? Or do you want a more complex system that might give you more opportunity, but is more difficult to trade?

You could have a lot of inputs to your system and make it very complex, but if the inputs don't really have a consistent and proven impact on price, then the complexity is exponentially bad.

So you could have:

  • complexity from a lot of bad inputs
  • complexity with a lot of good inputs
  • simplicity from a bad input
  • or simplicity from one very good input

 

It's all relative. Complexity or simplicity are almost immaterial until you look at the net effect, determine how good your inputs are, and figure out what you are able to handle. You must start by making sure you have good inputs to your system. And you must start with a foundation of simplicity, but reliability, and build from there.

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Thanks for the thoughtful responses, tradewinds. When I realized the consistency of losing my system was producing the thought of doing the opposite crossed my mind and then I realized how bad of a system I was trading. Reversing my entry would still have resulted in failure because my exits just plain stunk.

 

How do traders formulate their system? How do they find the edge? I'm confident once practiced I have the fundamental skill set and tools required to trade successfully a system with an edge I am confident in... Problem is finding the edge. How is finding the edge best tackled?

Edited by Firm Biz
Accidental post

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Problem is finding the edge. How is finding the edge best tackled?

 

That's the ultimate question. I would compare finding your edge, to finding the combination on a combination lock. Let's say that you had a combination lock, but you didn't know what the combination was. You could start trying combinations at random. Then after trying 10 or 20 combinations, you realize, that you have forgotten all the combinations that you tried, so you would need to start all over again.

 

Then you realize that you might be trying the same combinations over and over and over again. So you start writing them down. Then you realize that if you don't do this in a systematic way, that you could go through thousands of possible combinations, and be missing possibilities that you didn't even know existed.

 

The point I'm making is this. You need a "system" that allows you to evaluate what is good information and what isn't good information. You need a systematic and objective view of all the tons of information "out there" about trading. You could read and study trading for a lifetime, and never find an edge, unless you have a way of processing information and deciding what is good information and what isn't. I'm talking about two things here: How you are going to sort through all the information, and how your trading platform is going to sort through the data.

 

The most serious traders that I have encountered, have a way to test their trading theories. So I would suggest getting a trading platform that has a way of backtesting a strategy. If you are not a programer, then you are automatically at a disadvantage. If you are not a programmer, then you would need a platform that has backtesting capabilities that are user friendly.

 

There is lots of very good information about trading that is free. And some people give very detailed explanations about how they trade. But you could study a person's trading strategy for days or weeks, and then feel that it just wasn't for you. I don't know any way around that problem. It's a time commitment.

 

Try to get exposure to a lot of different view points, because you never know where some critical information might come from. It's like putting a puzzle together, but you must create the puzzle as you are putting it together. There are people who are willing to give you their puzzle, but you must decide whether it's for you or not. Or whether they know what they are talking about. Who knows, I may not have a clue about what I'm talking about. :rofl:

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An index future doesn't have to follow the index because it is a bet on the future and when it doesn't it can be an indicator. Trading index futures has some big advantages, namely the liquidity you seek.

It is a whole lot easier to get a few dimes on 100,000 shares than a dollar on 10,000 - so it should be obvious that the biggest edge a day trader can have is money. One of the main reasons index future traders fail is trying to stay inside the time limits for low margins. For months all moves happened outside those hours. And again, it very often just comes down to money.

Trying to make $50 on a $65,000 future doesn't make good sense without a serious edge. That type of edge is rare across the board - regardless of player size. It is achievable though.

My opinion for $100,000 would be to work a system with mostly winners on big stocks for dimes on 1000 shares until a few hundred a day is steadily pulled in, or better use their options instead if the system is comfortable.

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Pretty simple. I go in the direction of the trend based on multiple time frames 1hr, 15min, 5min. When they align either up or down, the market will rock. I use simple MA's and MACD and/or ZeroLag MACD, and primarily use the 15min with a lower TF confirmation. In essence, it's buying dips and selling spikes only in the direction of the trend so that even if I'm wrong, it will likely soon go in my favor. If I had to pick only one indicator, it would be the triple woodies (which is essentially the CCI), or ZLag MACD (but like anything else, you must understand what it's doing before you use it :) ).

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Hey, Firm Biz and other members.

 

My trading system is very simple:

Use Price, Volume and Time

Market Internals

Basic Candlestick formations and patterns

No mathematical indicators.

Day trade the YM, ES, NQ and TF

 

Use volume to indicate if market will reverse (or continue) at six time zones in the morning. 10:00 (after the news/report) - 10:30 - 11:00 - 11:30 - 12:00 - 12:30

 

Remember, I does not matter what the market does, it only matters what you do!

 

There is only one leading indicator..........You!

 

Glad to join the forum

 

BigAl

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The only time I'm ever profitable is when I use a trading system/strategy that is price based. One that only enters in the direction of my trade (the proverbial not trying to catch the falling knife.) One that goes for a fixed target. Has limits such as no trades beyond a certain time of day or certain times per weeks. That is my use of time.

 

The more I try to throw at my strategies the worse they get. When I take on and try to improve it by filtering out some recent losers - the worse it gets.

 

The more I try to "make" it work on some days that are simply crappy - the worse it gets.

 

I'd take simplicity over complexity any day.

 

MMS

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I saw the end of what looked like a great program on TV last night - the secret world of chaos.

I plan to watch a download or repeat. However the interesting point for this thread was that very very complex systems can evolve from very simple rules.

There was a particularly interesting segment on computer systems evolving and how by dropping simple rules that dont work, keeping simple rules that do work you end up with a complex system that works after very few generations...... trading so easy yet so hard.... so KISS is probably appropriate.

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i'm inclined to say simple but then again one could interpret it as complex since there's so much nuance that comes only with experience...

 

for example, below is a 3200 tick chart of today's trade on the ES. the blue trendlines were drawn by me before the market even opened. i did some micro trades along the way but the main move/trade was the breakout and subsequent pullback to test the b/o TL and move up. the pullback of the measured swing leading to the breakout is confluent with the TL and 40% fib retracement. my plan was to take 1/2 off on the 1st move (breakout level ~ 1332 swing high), move stop to breakeven, then set target at -23.6% fib extension which was hit.

 

as you can see, the chart is very simple with no indicators, just price (heiken ashi candles) and since it's a tick chart, volume graph really isn't necessary. I also look at multiple time frames, time of day zones, and market internals, for additional confirmation.

 

this was a high probability setup...

 

every day is different but no matter what i'm trading it's always the same in terms of process which is a deductive one.... pattern, trend or range, confluence, then i move to shorter timeframes or ticks to time entries. sometimes events will happen to where I'll have to re-draw everything to accomodate a more developed pattern or setup... there are no two alike. all the while i'm trying to conceptualize the big picture of what the market wants to do (the other traders)... and most times it's telling me. from there it's trade and risk management.

 

my "edge" if you want to call it that is probably experience in pattern recognition and mega hours analyzing charts and price action. and the way i trade may not work for anybody else but me as my trading style is an amalgamation of all my trading experience. and it's true that most of the best things are free... also, i have to say based on my experience as both a musician and trader that you either have it or you don't.

 

just my .02

 

2011-04-05_1712.png

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Here is today's trading of the YMM1

 

The gray vertical bars are time zones.

Green horizontal bars are Buy entries

Red horizontal bar are Sell entries.

Magenta horizontal bars are 1st target (1/2 the position)

Gold horizontal bars are 2nd target and pstops (closing position 2nd 1/2)

Gold and Magenta bars together means closing out the position

 

As Phil-n-Texas, I use tick bars. 512 for the YM. I have found showing the volume

on the upper subgraph very useful for indicating the turns at the morning time zones.

Notice the yellow circle over the volume spike on the 9:57 bar.

This was my indicator to Buy.

 

10:00 good for 10 points 1st half and 30 for the 2nd. Total 40 ticks

10:30 (actual 10:48) good for total 20 ticks

1:30 good for total 20 ticks

Normally I don't trade the afternoon session but I was home and took a shot. From the results it looks like a played the last way too tight.

 

Remember, It does not matter what the market does, it only matters what you do.

The only leading indicator is...........You!

 

Always, Trade Well

BigAl

5aa71066f04a7_YMM104052011copy.thumb.jpg.5d0f92a77f2b9c41d96a189eb08ec51b.jpg

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Systems (I call them trading "setups") are easy to understand but very hard to make a profit when you have limited market experience. You can get trading setups from books authored by "real" traders.

Test these setups and observe how they work. Take notes what market condition or price action they work and don't work. Adjust setup criteria accordingly to suit your markets. The EDGE is that you and only you can understand and trade your setup profitably. It is NOT an "edge" if everybody use the same system - that's the FACT.

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The most serious traders that I have encountered, have a way to test their trading theories. So I would suggest getting a trading platform that has a way of backtesting a strategy. If you are not a programer, then you are automatically at a disadvantage. If you are not a programmer, then you would need a platform that has backtesting capabilities that are user friendly.

 

To the OP--I am a fairly new trader who's not particularly profitable yet, but I'll give an alternative point of view to the above. Many people feel that back testing is a complete waste of time, especially the kind that can be programmed. The fact is many back testing engines don't simulate real trading environments. Look for trading systems that back test huge profits, and watch how in real time they often stink. I'd suggest watching how markets move, it's been a great help to my progress, as opposed to looking to the past for back testing with so much of your time. Again, take my advice for what it cost you...

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Hey, Firm Biz and other members.

 

My trading system is very simple:

Use Price, Volume and Time

Market Internals

Basic Candlestick formations and patterns

No mathematical indicators.

Day trade the YM, ES, NQ and TF

 

Use volume to indicate if market will reverse (or continue) at six time zones in the morning. 10:00 (after the news/report) - 10:30 - 11:00 - 11:30 - 12:00 - 12:30

 

Remember, I does not matter what the market does, it only matters what you do!

 

There is only one leading indicator..........You!

 

Glad to join the forum

 

BigAl

 

Hi BigAl, may I ask two follow up questions that I've been meaning to ask someone who knows?

 

1) Is there an advantage to you trading correlated markets, as NQ,YM,TF, and ES are all so closely related? Is it due to volume you're trading or some other reason?

 

2) On your chart the big volume bar indicated a reversal from the low. In your experience what volume would have indicated a continuation? In other words, what constitutes a good reversal signal here versus continuation?

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What moves price? Volume? Big players? Yes, but that's just superficial. Volume happens because decisions were made. Big players enter because decisions were made. What were those decisions based on? The QQQ tracks the Nasdaq 100. What affects the Nasdaq 100? Do the QQQ's track the NQ emini? What affects the NQ emini? What are the inputs to the NQ emini? If you chart the QQQ and the NQ, they are practically identical. The NQ is an index. It MUST do what the Nasdaq 100 does. So whatever those 100 stocks do, AS A GROUP, that is what the NQ MUST DO. It's an index, it must be indexed to the Nasdaq 100. What are the inputs to the the NQ?

 

So "big players" are superficial.....interesting....and they enter the market because "decisions were made".....

 

So what kind of "decisions" sir....you seem well informed...could you be more specific please?

 

and what exactly do you mean by "inputs"...(to the NQ)....could you be more specific please?

 

Thanks

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Hi BigAl, may I ask two follow up questions that I've been meaning to ask someone who knows?

 

1) Is there an advantage to you trading correlated markets, as NQ,YM,TF, and ES are all so closely related? Is it due to volume you're trading or some other reason?

 

2) On your chart the big volume bar indicated a reversal from the low. In your experience what volume would have indicated a continuation? In other words, what constitutes a good reversal signal here versus continuation?

 

1. Yes, these four indices move in step with each other. Just look at identical time frames for each and you will see the relationship. Now, the important part is that they are not always in sync. That's what I look for. A few years ago the NQ was the market leader and it still can be at times. The Russell 2000 is the new kid on the block and tends to show strength or weakness earlier than the others. I look for the index that is showing the strongest trend in either direction and trade that index. I also watch the market leader for the day to see if it will push (higher) or pull (lower) the other markets.

 

2. It's not the amount of volume, it was that the volume was significantly greater than the previous red bars during the sell off. Average volume for the YM on 512 tick bars are between 650-750. That bar was 1020.

 

Remember, It does not matter what the market does, it only matters what you do!

 

Trade Well!

 

BigAl

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2. It's not the amount of volume, it was that the volume was significantly greater than the previous red bars during the sell off. Average volume for the YM on 512 tick bars are between 650-750. That bar was 1020.

 

Thanks BigAl,

 

So if this were not a reversal but instead a continuation move, would you look for less volume here, more volume, or it depends on the follow through for the move? Basically, I'm looking at how to interpret volume here at these edges (like the low/high of the day,e tc.).

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