The Trade Decision-Rules to Consider

12/19/2007 12:00 am EST


1. Never add to a losing position.

2. Always determine a stop and a profit objective before entering a trade. Place stops based on market information, not your account balance. If a "proper" stop is too expensive, don't do the trade.

3. Remember the "power of a position." Never make a market judgment when you have a position.

4. Your decision to exit a trade means you perceive changing circumstances. Don't suddenly think you can pick a price, exit at the market.

The Market Has Character

5. In a bull market, never sell a dull market; in bear market, never buy a dull market.

6. There are times, because of lack of liquidity, or excessive volatility, when you should not trade.

7. Trading systems that work in an up market may not work in a down market.

8. There are at least three types of markets: up trending, range bound, and down. Have different trading strategies for each.

9. Up-market and down-market patterns are ALWAYS present, merely one is more dominant. In an up market, for example, it is very easy to take sell signal after sell signal, only to be stopped out time and again. Select trades with the trend.

10. A buy signal that fails is a sell signal. A sell signal that fails is a buy signal.

11. It's always easier to enter a losing trade.

12. In the "blowout" stage of the market, up or down, risk managers are issuing margin call position liquidation orders. They don't check the screen for overbought or oversold, they just keep issuing liquidation orders. Don't stand in front of a runaway freight train.

13. You are superstitious; don't trade if something bothers you.


14. Buy the rumor, sell the news.

15. News is only important when the market doesn't react in the direction of the news.

16. Read today's paper tomorrow. When you read yesterday's paper each day with the knowledge of what the market already did, you will affirm that this morning's paper with yesterday's news has nothing to do
with today's market.

A Time to Trade

17. On the open, never enter a new trade in the direction of a gap. Never let the market make you make a trade. (Closing an existing position is obviously okay.)

18. The first and last tick are the most expensive. Get in late and out early.

19. When everyone is in, it's time to get out.

20. Never trade when you are sick.

Tracking Your Trades

21. Size kills. Only change your unit of trading under a plan of attained goals. Also, have a plan for reducing size when your trading is cold or market volume is down.

22. Confidence kills. Remember, you really don't know anything. Respect the market every second of every day. Expect the unexpected. Always know your position and exit your trade immediately whenever you feel uneasy.

23. Measure yourself by profitable "days in a row," not by individual trades.

24. The best way to break a streak of "losing days in a row" is to not trade for a day.

25. Don't stop trading when you're on a winning streak. "When your hot, your hot."

26. Three strikes and your out! Don't turn three losing trades in a row into six in a row. When you're off, turn off the screen, do something else. "When you're not, you're not."

27. Scalpers reduce the number of variables affecting market risk by being in a position only for seconds. Daytraders reduce market risk by being in trades for a matter of minutes.

28. If you convert a scalp or daytrade into a position trade, by definition you did not consider the risks of the trade.

29. Don't ever fret about a missed opportunity. There is always another one just around the corner. Besides, several just happened that you didn't even know about.

Market Opinions

30. If you look for market secrets you will only find things that no one cares about. Use the conventional tools.

31. Never ask for someone else's opinion, they probably did not do as much homework as you.

32. When the market is going up, say "the market is going up." When the market is going down, say "the market is going down." Say it without qualifications, no "buts" attached. This is a reality check, you'll be amazed at how hard it is to say what is literally going on in front of you when your mind is full of preconceived opinions.

33. The daily market commentary: I've never had an opinion I didn't like, however, successful daytrading requires flexibility. Do your homework not to develop a market opinion, but rather to understand the potential for both sides of the market. This will allow you to make your trades based on what the market is doing at the time of the trade.

34. Here is a quote to remember: "When you wake up, your instincts are wrong."

Some Final Thoughts

35. When you make a mistake of discipline, whine like a fool to anyone that will listen. Errors in discipline are mistakes you will keep on making for many years. Wearing ashes and a sack cloth may help extend the time before you do it again.

36. If you squirmed and moaned while you read this list, then you share two obvious characteristics with many of us:

A. You have traded long enough to recognize that you (not the market) make mistakes, and you try to overcome them.

B. Now this is ugly: you have become part of the market, and you can never leave.

No matter where life takes you, you will always check the market and always want to continue being a part of it. It's like that first true love, it will always be there no matter what the distance, no matter whether they are alive or dead.

By Joe Ross of

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