3 basic strategies from professional traders

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20 Rules Followed by Professional Traders

Booking reliable profits in financial markets is harder than it looks at first glance. In fact, unofficial estimates suggest that more than 80% of would-be traders eventually fail, wash out, and turn to safer hobbies. But the brokerage industry rarely publishes client failure rates because they’re likely concerned the truth will scare off new accounts. In reality, the washout rate could be much higher than 80%.

Indeed, success in trading is difficult and the consistently profitable traders share specific rare characteristics. These 20 rules are tips that long-time pros use to stay in the winner’s circle.

The Road to Long-Term Profitability

Long-term profitability requires two related skill sets. The first is to identify a set of strategies that make more money than they lose and then to use the strategies as part of a trading plan. Second, the strategies must perform well while the market experiences both bull and bear impulses. In other words, while many traders know how to make money in specific markets, like a strong uptrend, they fail in the long run because their strategies don’t adapt to inevitable changes in market conditions.

Key Takeaways

  • Profitable trading is difficult and successful traders share specific rare characteristics.
  • It is estimated that more than 80% of traders fail and quit.
  • One key to success is to identify strategies that win more money than they lose.
  • Many traders fail because strategies fail to adapt to changing market conditions.
  • Classic rules from pro traders can help keep a sharp focus on profitability.

Can you break away from the pack and join the professional minority with an approach that increases odds for long-term prosperity? Can you separate from the herd of wannabe traders and achieve trading success? Start with a clear and concise plan with proven strategies and then leverage the 20 rules that follow.

1. Stick to Your Discipline

Discipline can’t be taught in a seminar or found in expensive trading software. Traders spend thousands of dollars trying to compensate for their lack of self-control but few realize that a long look in the mirror accomplishes the same task at a much lower price. The important lesson is that, once a trader has confidence in their trading plan, they must have the discipline to stay the course, even when there are the inevitable losing streaks.

2. Lose the Crowd

Long-term profitability requires positioning ahead of or behind the crowd, but never in the crowd because that’s where predatory strategies target. Stay away from stock boards and chat rooms, where people are less than serious and many of them have ulterior motives.

3. Engage Your Trading Plan

Update your trading plan weekly or monthly to include new ideas and eliminate bad ones. Go back and read the plan whenever you fall in a hole and are looking for a way to get out.

4. Don’t Cut Corners

Your competition spends hundreds of hours perfecting strategies and you’re in for a rude awakening if you expect to throw a few darts and walk away with a profit. The only way to achieve long-term success is with hard work and discipline.

5. Avoid the Obvious

Profits rarely come from following the majority or the crowd. When you see a perfect trade setup, it’s likely that everyone else sees it as well, planting you in the crowd, and setting you up for failure.

6. Don’t Break Your Rules

You create trading rules to get you out of trouble when positions go badly. If you don’t allow them to do their job, you’ve lost your discipline and opened the door to even greater losses.

7. Avoid Market Gurus

It’s your money at stake, not theirs. Keep in mind that the guru might be talking up their own positions, hoping the excited chatter will increase their profits, not yours.

8. Use Your Intuition

Trading uses the mathematical and artistic sides of your brain so you need to cultivate both to succeed in the long run. Once you’re comfortable with math, you might want to try to enhance results with meditation, a few yoga postures, or a quiet walk in the park.

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9. Don’t Fall in Love

If you’re too in love with your trading vehicle or investment, you give way to flawed decision-making. It’s your job to capitalize on inefficiency, making money while everyone else is leaning the wrong way.

10. Organize Your Personal Life

Whatever is wrong in your life will eventually carry over into your trading performance. This is especially dangerous if you haven’t made peace with money, wealth, and the magnetic polarity of abundance and scarcity. Keep your trading needs separate from your personal needs, and take care of both.

11. Don’t Try to Get Even

Drawdowns are a natural part of the trader’s life cycle. Accept them gracefully and stick to the time-tested strategies you know will eventually get your performance back on track. Don’t try to make up for a losing trade by trading more. Revenge trading is a recipe for disaster.

12. Watch for Warnings

Big losses rarely occur without multiple technical warnings. Traders routinely ignore those signals and allow hope to replace thoughtful discipline, setting themselves up for pain. In short, keep an eye out for early signs that market conditions are changing and creating risks to your positions.

13. Tools Don’t Think

Some traders try to make up for insufficient skills with expensive software, prepackaged with all sorts of proprietary buy and sell signals. These tools can interfere with valuable experience when you think the software is smarter than you are. Use tools that fit well with your trading plan, but remember that, ultimately, you are the one calling the shots.

14. Use Your Head

It’s natural for traders to emulate their financial heroes, but it’s also a perfect way to lose money. Learn what you can from others, then back off and establish your own market identity, based on your unique skills and risk tolerance.

15. Forget the Holy Grail

Losing traders fantasize about the secret formula that will magically improve their results. In reality, there are no secrets because the road to success always passes through careful choice, effective risk management, and skilled profit-taking.

16. Ditch the Paycheck Mentality

We’re taught to grind through the work week for a paycheck. This pay-for-effort reward mentality is at odds with the natural flow of trading wins and losses during the course of a year. In fact, statistics indicate that most annual profits are booked on just a handful of trading days.

The number of actual trading days during a typical calendar year, as most markets are closed for holidays and weekends.

17. Don’t Count Your Chickens

It is okay to feel good about a trade that’s going your way, but the money isn’t yours until you close out or cover the position. Lock in what you can as early as you can, with trailing stops or partial profits, so the hidden hands of the market can’t pickpocket your gains at the last minute.

18. Embrace Simplicity

Focus on price action, understanding that everything else is secondary. Go ahead and build complex technical indicators, while keeping in mind that their primary function is to confirm or refute what your eye already sees.

19. Make Peace With Losses

Trading is one of the few professions where losing money every day is a natural path to success. Every trading loss comes with an important market lesson if you’re open to the message. Also, know when to quit and take a break from trading. Accept the losses, take time to regroup, and then come back to the market with a new perspective.

20. Beware of Reinforcement

Active trading releases adrenaline and endorphins. These chemicals can produce feelings of euphoria even when you’re losing money. In turn, this encourages addictive personalities to take bad positions, just to get the rush. If you’re trading to achieve a rush and excitement, you are probably trading for the wrong reasons.

The Bottom Line

Most traders fail to tap their full potential, eventually cashing in their chips and finding more traditional ways to make money. Become a proud member of the professional minority by following classic rules designed to keep a razor-sharp focus on profitability.

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Strategies

Day trading strategies are essential when you are looking to capitalise on frequent, small price movements. A consistent, effective strategy relies on in-depth technical analysis, utilising charts, indicators and patterns to predict future price movements. This page will give you a thorough break down of beginners trading strategies, working all the way up to advanced , automated and even asset-specific strategies.

It will also outline some regional differences to be aware of, as well as pointing you in the direction of some useful resources. Ultimately though, you’ll need to find a day trading strategy that suits your specific trading style and requirements.

Also, ensure your choice of broker suits strategy based day trading. You will want things like;

  • Excellent trade execution speed,
  • Price action data ( + Level 2 if possible)
  • Ability to trade direct from graphs,
  • Trade automation,
  • Stop losses and take profit orders
  • Etc etc.

Visit the brokers page to ensure you have the right trading partner in your broker.

Top 3 Brokers Suited To Strategy Based Trading

Trading Strategies for Beginners

Before you get bogged down in a complex world of highly technical indicators, focus on the basics of a simple day trading strategy. Many make the mistake of thinking you need a highly complicated strategy to succeed intraday, but often the more straightforward, the more effective.

The Basics

Incorporate the invaluable elements below into your strategy.

  • Money management – Before you start, sit down and decide how much you’re willing to risk. Bear in mind most successful traders won’t put more than 2% of their capital on the line per trade. You have to prepare yourself for some losses if you want to be around when the wins start rolling in.
  • Time management – Don’t expect to make a fortune if you only allocate an hour or two a day to trading. You need to constantly monitor the markets and be on the lookout for trade opportunities.
  • Start small – Whilst you’re finding your feet, stick to a maximum of three stocks during a single day. It’s better to get really good at a few than to be average and making no money on loads.
  • Education – Understanding market intricacies isn’t enough, you also need to stay informed. Make sure you stay up to date with market news and any events that will impact your asset, such as a shift in economic policy. You can find a wealth of online financial and business resources that will keep you in the know.
  • Consistency – It’s harder than it looks to keep emotions at bay when you’re five coffees in and you’ve been staring at the screen for hours. You need to let maths, logic and your strategy guide you, not nerves, fear, or greed.
  • Timing – The market will get volatile when it opens each day and while experienced day traders may be able to read the patterns and profit, you should bide your time. So hold back for the first 15 minutes, you’ve still got hours ahead.
  • Demo Account – A must-have tool for any beginner, but also the best place to backtest or experiment with new, or refined, strategies for advanced traders. Many demo accounts are unlimited, so not time restricted.

Components Every Strategy Needs

Whether you’re after automated day trading strategies, or beginner and advanced tactics, you’ll need to take into account three essential components; volatility, liquidity and volume. If you’re to make money on tiny price movements, choosing the right stock is vital. These three elements will help you make that decision.

  • Liquidity – This enables you to swiftly enter and exit trades at an attractive and stable price. Liquid commodity strategies, for example, will focus on gold, crude oil and natural gas.
  • Volatility – This tells you your potential profit range. The greater the volatility, the greater profit or loss you may make. The cryptocurrency market is one such example well known for high volatility.
  • Volume – This measurement will tell you how many times the stock/asset has been traded within a set period of time. For day traders, this is better known as ‘average daily trading volume.’ High volume tells you there’s significant interest in the asset or security. An increase in volume is frequently an indicator a price jump either up or down, is fast approaching.

5 Day Trading Strategies

1. Breakout

Breakout strategies centre around when the price clears a specified level on your chart, with increased volume. The breakout trader enters into a long position after the asset or security breaks above resistance. Alternatively, you enter a short position once the stock breaks below support.

After an asset or security trades beyond the specified price barrier, volatility usually increases and prices will often trend in the direction of the breakout.

You need to find the right instrument to trade. When doing this bear in mind the asset’s support and resistance levels. The more frequently the price has hit these points, the more validated and important they become.

Entry Points

This part is nice and straightforward. Prices set to close and above resistance levels require a bearish position. Prices set to close and below a support level need a bullish position.

Plan your exits

Use the asset’s recent performance to establish a reasonable price target. Using chart patterns will make this process even more accurate. You can calculate the average recent price swings to create a target. If the average price swing has been 3 points over the last several price swings, this would be a sensible target. Once you’ve reached that goal you can exit the trade and enjoy the profit.

2. Scalping

One of the most popular strategies is scalping. It’s particularly popular in the forex market, and it looks to capitalise on minute price changes. The driving force is quantity. You will look to sell as soon as the trade becomes profitable. This is a fast-paced and exciting way to trade, but it can be risky. You need a high trading probability to even out the low risk vs reward ratio.

Be on the lookout for volatile instruments, attractive liquidity and be hot on timing. You can’t wait for the market, you need to close losing trades as soon as possible.

3. Momentum

Popular amongst trading strategies for beginners, this strategy revolves around acting on news sources and identifying substantial trending moves with the support of high volume. There is always at least one stock that moves around 20-30% each day, so there’s ample opportunity. You simply hold onto your position until you see signs of reversal and then get out.

Alternatively, you can fade the price drop. This way round your price target is as soon as volume starts to diminish.

This strategy is simple and effective if used correctly. However, you must ensure you’re aware of upcoming news and earnings announcements. Just a few seconds on each trade will make all the difference to your end of day profits.

4. Reversal

Although hotly debated and potentially dangerous when used by beginners, reverse trading is used all over the world. It’s also known as trend trading, pull back trending and a mean reversion strategy.

This strategy defies basic logic as you aim to trade against the trend. You need to be able to accurately identify possible pullbacks, plus predict their strength. To do this effectively you need in-depth market knowledge and experience.

The ‘daily pivot’ strategy is considered a unique case of reverse trading, as it centres on buying and selling the daily low and high pullbacks/reverse.

5. Using Pivot Points

A day trading pivot point strategy can be fantastic for identifying and acting on critical support and/or resistance levels. It is particularly useful in the forex market. In addition, it can be used by range-bound traders to identify points of entry, while trend and breakout traders can use pivot points to locate key levels that need to break for a move to count as a breakout.

Calculating Pivot Points

A pivot point is defined as a point of rotation. You use the prices of the previous day’s high and low, plus the closing price of a security to calculate the pivot point.

Note that if you calculate a pivot point using price information from a relatively short time frame, accuracy is often reduced.

So, how do you calculate a pivot point?

  • Central Pivot Point (P) = (High + Low + Close) / 3

You can then calculate support and resistance levels using the pivot point. To do that you will need to use the following formulas:

  • First Resistance (R1) = (2*P) – Low
  • First Support (S1) = (2*P) – High

The second level of support and resistance is then calculated as follows:

  • Second Resistance (R2) = P + (R1-S1)
  • Second Support (S2) = P – (R1- S1)

Application

When applied to the FX market, for example, you will find the trading range for the session often takes place between the pivot point and the first support and resistance levels. This is because a high number of traders play this range.

It’s also worth noting, this is one of the systems & methods that can be applied to indexes too. For example, it can help form an effective S&P day trading strategy.

Limit Your Losses

This is particularly important if you’re using margin. Requirements for which are usually high for day traders. When you trade on margin you are increasingly vulnerable to sharp price movements. Yes, this means the potential for greater profit, but it also means the possibility of significant losses. Fortunately, you can employ stop-losses.

The stop-loss controls your risk for you. In a short position, you can place a stop-loss above a recent high, for long positions you can place it below a recent low. You can also make it dependant on volatility.

For example, a stock price moves by £0.05 a minute, so you place a stop-loss £0.15 away from your entry order, allowing it to swing (hopefully in the expected direction).

One popular strategy is to set up two stop-losses. Firstly, you place a physical stop-loss order at a specific price level. This will be the most capital you can afford to lose. Secondly, you create a mental stop-loss. Place this at the point your entry criteria are breached. So if the trade makes an unanticipated turn, you’ll make a swift exit.

Forex Trading Strategies

Forex strategies are risky by nature as you need to accumulate your profits in a short space of time. You can apply any of the strategies above to the forex market, or you can see our forex page for detailed strategy examples.

Cryptocurrency Trading Strategies

The exciting and unpredictable cryptocurrency market offers plenty of opportunities for the switched on day trader. You don’t need to understand the complex technical makeup of bitcoin or ethereum, nor do you need to hold a long-term view on their viability. Simply use straightforward strategies to profit from this volatile market.

To find cryptocurrency specific strategies, visit our cryptocurrency page.

Stock Trading Strategies

Day trading strategies for stocks rely on many of the same principles outlined throughout this page, and you can use many of the strategies outlined above. Below though is a specific strategy you can apply to the stock market.

Moving Average Crossover

You will need three moving average lines:

  • One set at 20 periods – This is your fast moving average
  • One set at 60 periods – This is your slow moving average
  • One set at 100 periods – This is your trend indicator

This is one of the moving averages strategies that generates a buy signal when the fast moving average crosses up and over the slow moving average. A sell signal is generated simply when the fast moving average crosses below the slow moving average.

So, You’ll open a position when the moving average line crosses in one direction and you’ll close the position when it crosses back the opposite way.

How can you establish there’s definitely a trend? You know the trend is on if the price bar stays above or below the 100-period line.

For more information on stocks strategies, see our Stocks and shares page.

Spread Betting Strategies

Spread betting allows you to speculate on a huge number of global markets without ever actually owning the asset. Plus, strategies are relatively straightforward.

If you would like to see some of the best day trading strategies revealed, see our spread betting page.

CFD Strategies

Developing an effective day trading strategy can be complicated. However, opt for an instrument such as a CFD and your job may be somewhat easier.

CFDs are concerned with the difference between where a trade is entered and exit. Recent years have seen their popularity surge. This is because you can profit when the underlying asset moves in relation to the position taken, without ever having to own the underlying asset.

For CFD specific day trading tips and strategies, see our CFD page.

Regional Differences

Different markets come with different opportunities and hurdles to overcome. Day trading strategies for the Indian market may not be as effective when you apply them in Australia. For example, some countries may be distrusting of the news, so the market may not react in the same way as you’d expect them to back home.

Regulations are another factor to consider. Indian strategies may be tailor-made to fit within specific rules, such as high minimum equity balances in margin accounts. So, get online and check obscure regulations won’t impact your strategy before you put your hard earned money on the line.

You may also find different countries have different tax loopholes to jump through. If you’re based in the West but want to apply your normal day trading strategies in the Philippines, you need to do your homework first.

What type of tax will you have to pay? Will you have to pay it abroad and/or domestically? Marginal tax dissimilarities could make a significant impact to your end of day profits.

Risk Management

Stop-loss

Strategies that work take risk into account. If you don’t manage risk, you’ll lose more than you can afford and be out of the game before you know it. This is why you should always utilise a stop-loss.

The price may look like it’s moving in the direction you hoped, but it could reverse at any time. A stop-loss will control that risk. You’ll exit the trade and only incur a minimal loss if the asset or security doesn’t come through.

Savvy traders don’t usually risk more than 1% of their account balance on a single trade. So if you have £27,500 in your account, you can risk up to £275 per trade.

Position size

It will also enable you to select the perfect position size. Position size is the number of shares taken on a single trade. Take the difference between your entry and stop-loss prices. For example, if your entry point is £12 and your stop-loss is £11.80, then your risk is £0.20 per share.

Now to figure out how many trades you can take on a single trade, divide £275 by £0.20. You can take a position size of up to 1,375 shares. That is the maximum position you could take to stick to your 1% risk limit.

Also, check there is sufficient volume in the stock/asset to absorb the position size you use. In addition, keep in mind that if you take a position size too big for the market, you could encounter slippage on your entry and stop-loss.

Learning Methods

Videos

Everyone learns in different ways. For example, some will find day trading strategies videos most useful. This is why a number of brokers now offer numerous types of day trading strategies in easy-to-follow training videos. Head to their learning and resources section to see what’s on offer.

Blogs

If you’re looking for the best day trading strategies that work, sometimes online blogs are the place to go. Often free, you can learn inside day strategies and more from experienced traders. On top of that, blogs are often a great source of inspiration.

Forums

Some people will learn best from forums. This is because you can comment and ask questions. Plus, you often find day trading methods so easy anyone can use. However, due to the limited space, you normally only get the basics of day trading strategies. So, if you are looking for more in-depth techniques, you may want to consider an alternative learning tool.

If you want a detailed list of the best day trading strategies, PDFs are often a fantastic place to go. Their first benefit is that they are easy to follow. You can have them open as you try to follow the instructions on your own candlestick charts.

Another benefit is how easy they are to find. For example, you can find a day trading strategies using price action patterns PDF download with a quick google. They can also be very specific. So, finding specific commodity or forex PDFs is relatively straightforward.

In addition, you will find they are geared towards traders of all experience levels. Hence you can find for beginners PDFs and advanced PDFs. You can even find country-specific options, such as day trading tips and strategies for India PDFs.

Books

Having said that, a PDF simply won’t go into the level of detail that many books will. The books below offer detailed examples of intraday strategies. Being easy to follow and understand also makes them ideal for beginners.

  • The Simple Strategy – A Powerful Day Trading Strategy For Trading Futures, Stocks, ETFs and Forex, Mark Hodge
  • How to Day Trade: A Detailed Guide to Day Trading Strategies, Risk Management, and Trader Psychology, Ross Cameron
  • Intra-Day Trading Strategies: Proven Steps to Trading Profits, Jeff Cooper
  • The Complete Guide to Day Trading: A Practical Manual from a Professional Day Trading Coach, Markus Heitkoetter
  • Stock Trading Wizard: Advanced Short-Term Trading Strategies, Tony Oz

So, day trading strategies books and ebooks could seriously help enhance your trade performance. If you would like more top reads, see our books page.

Online Courses

Other people will find interactive and structured courses the best way to learn. Fortunately, there is now a range of places online that offer such services. You can find courses on day trading strategies for commodities, where you could be walked through a crude oil strategy. Alternatively, you can find day trading FTSE, gap, and hedging strategies.

Trading For A Living

If you’re looking to pack up the day job and start day trading for a living, then you’ve got a challenging but exciting journey ahead of you. You’ll need to wrap your head around advanced strategies, as well as effective risk and money management strategies. Discipline and a firm grasp on your emotions are essential.

For more information, visit our ‘trading for a living‘ page.

Final Word

Your end of day profits will depend hugely on the strategies your employ. So, it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s often the straightforward strategy that proves successful, regardless of whether you’re interested in gold or the NSE.

Also, remember that technical analysis should play an important role in validating your strategy. In addition, even if you opt for early entry or end of day trading strategies, controlling your risk is essential if you want to still have cash in the bank at the end of the week. Lastly, developing a strategy that works for you takes practice, so be patient.

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