There’s a perception that a professional trader is someone who is constantly tossing contracts into the market, going long and short on the tip of a hat, trying to catch a move.
While some could be like that, I like the idea of trading like a sniper, waiting for the right moment to pull the trigger. In some ways, effective trading could be like musical composition. I believe that it was Mozart who said something to the effect of: “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”
So then “trading” could be defined as: “Profitability is not in the trades, but in the pause between.”
Let’s show an example; in August and into Mid-September, we were quite busy with our non-directional trades since the market was in a low-volatility condition and nicely range-bound. But two problems started to emerge:
We closed down all of our trades and waited for the Market to make the next move, and “move” it did! Over two hundred S&P points to the downside, and counting in just a few days.
In this chart, the red circle shows the energy peak, and the yellow arrow shows the triangle apex; while we’re not in the business of predicting the future, we know from experience that this is a condition that likely brings about big moves that we’d prefer to avoid if we’re trading non-directional strategies.
Had we just kept trading those strategies, undoubtedly a number of them would have been closed for a full loss.
While you’ll miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take (Wayne Gretzky) sometimes it’s better to let the silence between the notes (or your trades) play out. Know when to wait vs. when to act.
In your corner……..Doc Severson
Something that’s hard for traders to understand is the concept that all moments in the Market are independent from each other; each moment in time is unique in the manner that the Market processes it. We humans are different, however; we tend to create Pavlovian responses to specific “trigger” events through learned behavior.
For example, when we’re young we figure out very quickly which things bring us pleasure, and which experiences bring us pain. A bag of Halloween candy will put a smile on our face, but picking up the cat and turning it upside down might get us clawed for our mischief. As we experience life, we catalog and inventory these experiences, which we eventually call “wisdom.”
But then we start to tangle with the Market and we expect the same predictable response from stimuli and patterns. We note certain responses from the market to inputs, and we mentally catalog those responses as well. Pretty soon you’ve got it all figured out!
“I know that when I see the price test the lower edge of the Opening Range from below, it will always reject that level!” or “Every time I see the stochastic cross to the upside, it’s a great buy!”
We then entangle these beliefs with what’s called “recency bias” where we tend to give more weight to recent experiences over the span of time. Let me give you an example from this week that will help you understand how to pull all of these concepts together:
A little while back on a Monday we had a pretty nice “range” day; the price stayed in a relatively tight range all day. That led to a nice Zero DTE Iron Butterfly trade. On Tuesday, the same pattern showed up for a “range trade” entry, same as Monday…and within ten minutes I had to close the trade for a loss. Something shifted in the sentiment and the “range” day became a “trend” day to the downside.
Most new retail traders would immediately abandon that setup, not because it worked on Monday, but specifically because it DID NOT work on Tuesday. This is Recency Bias in action. They will sit on their hands for the next five good setups just because it failed that one time.
Would you care to guess what will likely happen when they finally gather the courage to enter again on the next setup? More than likely it will fail on them again. This is the classic symptom of “trading NOT to lose” instead of “trading to win.”
Learn to accept the fact that every moment in the Market is unique. By doing so, you can start to wean yourself off of the human need to apply recency bias to what you believe “should” happen.
In your corner….Doc Severson
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