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New York, New York


“If I can make it there

I’ll make it anywhere

It’s up to you, New York, New York.”

Barry at the Nasdaq

For some reason, people have a relationship with New York – good or bad. In many, many movies and TV shows over the years, New York is actually a character, almost a person in the script.

I totally get that.

I just returned from a wonderful 2 week trip there … and boy was it a blast.

We saw 3 Broadway plays, ate at wonderful restaurants, took a horse and buggy ride through Central Park … and downtown (where else can you take a carriage ride through the middle of a huge city?), had lots of New York style cheesecake, New York style pizza and New York Delis, and even went to Mars (there’s a cool restaurant that makes you feel like you’re on Mars, complete with aliens – great for everyone, not just the kids).

Our hotel was just blocks away from Times Square, so we were in the thick of it.

New York is my favorite city in the world. I absolutely love it. Even though I don’t visit it very often, I consider it my home away from home because I resonate with it so much.

Kind of surprising since my introduction to New York was literally a horror story.

It was back in 1964 and I was only 5 years old. My parents took me there for the World’s Fair. A wonderful trip … except for one incident that would stand out as one of the traumatic in my life.

One day, among the THRONGS of people, my parents were wrestling with their tokens and the subway turnstile. They told me to duck under the turnstile and save them a seat on the train (in retrospect: “What were they thinking?!”).

Being the perfectly obedient child, I did as they said, and after getting on the train, the doors closed behind me … and my parents were still back at the turnstile … SCREAMING!

The train took off with me in it, going God knows where.

There I was, 5 years old, all alone in the middle of New York, surrounded by masses of people, and all alone.

I had a type of “life flashing before your eyes” experience. Except it was my future life. I still remember vividly imaging what my life would be like from that point on.

I would grow up an orphan living on the streets. I befriended a scruffy homeless dog with 3 legs and we became pals and hang around together for the rest of our days. We went to trash cans to find food and beg for the rest. The story goes on … it was like a dream, and I still remember every bit of it.

After my daydreaming, I came back to reality and started looking around the car for an adult to help me. As I looked up for help, I found that everyone was staring at me (I had been balling my eyes out screaming “Mommy, Mommy”), but as soon as our eyes met, their faces quickly turned away!

That was the loneliest moment of my life.

I had no idea what to do. So I just stayed on the subway train and figured I’d stay on it until someone kicked me off because my Mother always told me to stay put if we got separated (she never thought that I’d be “staying put” on a moving object!

After several stops, a woman came up to me and asked if I was lost. She took my hand and got me off at the next stop where we waited for my parents to arrive on the following train.

The kindness of strangers.

It was a reunion of unimaginable proportions.

My Dad offered to give the woman some money for her help. But she declined saying, “I wouldn’t have done it, but I didn’t have anything else to do,” and then she walked away.


You’d think after that experience, I’d be sour on the city. But for some reason, I never held it against her. In some strange way it actually was the beginning of an intimate relationship.

My friend New York used to be loud, rude and obnoxious, while at the same time being wild, exciting and unpredictable. Exotic, untamed, and not a little “crazy” … but that can be very attractive.

It would be unrealistic to think that I could change New York. That is beyond my power. It’s like getting into a relationship with a person and then trying to change them. The only power you have is to change yourself … and that’s hard enough!

Over the years New York has done a great job of changing herself.

She’s had her rough edges smoothed. Still exotic, but more refined and polite now. Heck, they even have street signs threatening a $350 fine for honking your car horn! Am I in the right city?

And who ever thought that smoking in a NYC restaurant would ever be outlawed?!

It’s nice to see the city “cleaned up.” You feel safer walking the streets, it’s cleaner, and there are many, many benefits.

So what does this story have to do with trading?

Just this …

Most every trader’s initial experience with trading is a negative one. They lose money.

Money is a very emotional thing to people, and the loss of it impacts us tremendously. We often personify the “the market” and accuse her of taking our money. It’s a bad way to begin a relationship.

If you read the stories of famous and successful traders in the landmark book Market Wizards [disclosure: affiliate link], you will find that most of them had a financial crisis with the market early in their career … some of them losing everything they had.

This “Market” we are in relationship with is loud, rude and obnoxious, while at the same time being wild, exciting and unpredictable. It’s exotic, untamed, and not a little “crazy” … but that can be very attractive.

Most people look for a way to “tame” the market by finding the perfect indicator, price pattern or strategy. But that’s not the path to success. The market is beyond your power. The only way to become a successful trader, is to tame yourself!

Keeping control of yourself, you can control your own destiny. Then you’re free to enjoy the market in all its wildness and unpredictability.

Question: What is the Best Interval for Day Trading: One Minute? Five Minute? Answer: NO MINUTE!


stock-market-1254798-639x695“What’s the best chart interval for day trading?”

One of the most common questions I receive is regarding the best chart interval for day trading. This question often comes into the “Ask Barry“ service.

This is a service where anyone can ask me a question about the market, technical analysis, trading, money management, etc.

You can use the form in the right column of this blog (scroll down a bit to find it). I personally respond to all questions by sending you an email, and some questions get posted in this blog.

Today’s question (which has come in several forms from several different readers):

“Yo Barry, I notice in a lot of the charts you post, you use tick charts. Does that mean your method is more for day trading than swing trading? What’s the best CHART interval for day trading? And what’s actually the difference between minute charts and ‘tick’ charts?”

Thanks to all who asked these questions. They’ve been common ones so I thought it was time to answer them publicly.


First, my method is definitely not more for day trading than swing trading. I’m a very active swing trader and use the same method for both swing trading and day trading.

Second, there’s no best chart interval for day trading, but there is one that’s best for YOU. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Evaluate them for yourself and choose an interval that fits your personal trading style, execution speed, degree of patience and risk tolerance.

  • Faster charts give you more trades per day and can lower your risk per trade. That’s at the expense of being more “noisy” (having more meaningless and false moves). This requires you to make faster decisions since the bars finish faster, especially in fast markets.
  • The slower charts (longer time-frames) grant you more time to make trading decisions. They have less “noise,” but since the point range of each bar is bigger, your risk per trade is larger. In addition, since they provide fewer trades per day, it’s easier to get “lulled to sleep” during long periods of insignificant activity.

Third, as to the difference between tick charts and minute charts, that’s going to take a little more explanation.

With most charts, each bar represents a period of time.

  • On a daily chart, each bar contains all the price action of that one day, and when the next day starts, a new bar is plotted.
  • With a 5 minute chart, each bar represents all the price action for 5 minutes, and when the 6th minute begins, the chart plots a new bar.

“Tick” charts are different in that each bar does not represent any particular amount of time. A “tick” is a “trade.” So every time someone places a trade, that is called a “tick.”

A 200 tick chart, then creates a bar that includes all the price action for 200 trades. Only when the 201st trade goes through the market, the chart plots a new bar.

  • If the market is slow, it could take 5 minutes for 200 trades to go through the market.
  • When the market is fast, it could take 30 seconds for 200 trades to go through the market.

So tick charts are a way of incorporating volume into the price bars and price formations themselves.

However, remember it isn’t really measuring volume directly because trades (“ticks”) will have varying amounts of volume. One trade could be for a single contract, and another could be for 50 contracts.

You can also plot “volume charts” in which each bar represents how many contracts (shares) each bar will represent rather than how many trades.

Which is better?

There is no objective answer to that. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Some people prefer minute charts (1 minute, 2 minute, etc.) because they tend to form more traditional candlestick patterns.

My trading method isn’t dependent on any time interval, or whether you use minute charts or tick charts.

Personally, for day trading I use tick charts as my primary charts … but I do have a 5 minute chart that I’m always watching as well.

I personally prefer tick charts for 2 reasons:

  1. Tick charts tend to create more symmetrical patterns than regular minute charts. That’s because when the market is extremely slow, minute charts will continue to plot a lot of small bars that go no where. When the market is fast, it will create very long bars, because it can’t create a new bar until “time is up” (5 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.).
  2. Tick charts often create more narrow range bars than minute charts at turning points. This allows you to keep my risk smaller (because risk is defined by the range of the bars at cycle turning points in the market).

To see a VIDEO that demonstrates these differences in minute charts and tick charts, visit my page on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=TopDogTrading

BELOW ARE A 2 MINUTE CHART AND A 200 TICK CHART OF THE SAME TIME PERIOD ON THE NASDAQ FUTURES FOR COMPARISON. Look at them and see what you think is the best chart interval for day trading.

best chart interval for day trading

best chart interval for day trading


Ask Barry: “Chat Rooms and Break Out Trading.”


Here’s another question from the “Ask Barry” service.

This is a service where anyone can ask me a question about the market, technical analysis, trading, money management, etc.

You can use the form in the right column of this blog (scroll down a bit to find it). I personally respond to all questions by sending you an email, and some questions get posted in this blog.

Today’s question:

“I’ve traded for a few years actively and have not done well. I’ve joined a number or chatrooms that post great results but haven’t seen them during my time. I have noticed a change in intraday market setups the breakout and breakdowns are not easy to spot and when they do many times they reverse. Do you have any advice? Thank you.”

I’m with you brother. I’ve been in many, many chat rooms over the years and have yet to find one that I could follow with consistent profitability.

However, I did find a TREMENDOUS value in chat rooms. I learned that the best chat rooms to learn from are those that are free and that allow the users (not the moderators) to chat a lot.

These rooms are worth their weight in gold.

Here’s why:

I would just sit and listen (or watch their typing) and then compare what they were saying to how the charts looked. When you do this you are getting into the head of the loser, and that’s very valuable.

Not to be insulting, but the truth is that 95% of the users of those chat rooms are very poor traders and are definitely “losers” in their trading.

If you can listen to those people and, through repetition, learn how they read charts, it will help you to trade against them.

Also you want to watch out when you find yourself agreeing with them. That’s a great revelation for you because you can uncover your own “loser” thinking that way.

This may sound kind of silly, but I’m totally serious. I personally used this for 2 years as an exercise to improve my own trading and it really worked. When I watch a chart now I can almost “hear” what the losing traders are thinking at various points on the chart!

Regarding breakout trading … I’ve never been a big fan of it. One of my mentors taught me his method of breakout/down trading and it never felt right to me. So I completely abandoned 95% of what he taught me simply because it never made real sense to me and it didn’t fit my personal style and risk tolerance.

In my opinion, by the time a market breaks a level, you are late to the party. Most of the pros I know get in before levels are broken … and that’s certainly what I do.

Having said that, I have developed my own type of “breakout” trade that uses the expansion/contraction cycle along with cycles. But I only take it when I have at least 4-5 different energies aligned and even then I only risk 1-2 bars (which is all I risk on any trade).

I explain this trade in my later courses … sorry, but it’s too much to explain in a single letter like this.

Happy Trades,


Top Dog Hits Wall Street!


Greetings Traders!

Just a quick note to let you know that I’m going to be in the Big Apple next week (July 2 – 6).

While I’m there I’m going to have a few extra hours to spare, so if you live in the area and would like some help with your trading …

I’m offering a few private sessions in the great NYC to any traders who would like to get together with me. These are designed to be one-on-one sessions (though I’ll meet with small groups as well) during which we can cover anything you’d like:

  • Go over some of your trades.
  • Talk about trading discipline and psychology.
  • Review your trade diary or help you get started with one.
  • Analyze any of the current markets.
  • Learn something new!

It’s wide open – anything you want – as long as it’s something I feel I can really help you with.

There is a cost, but it will be very minimal.

If interested, just send me an email at: barry@topdogtrading.com

Be sure to include your name, phone number and the best time to reach you. I’ll call you, we’ll talk about what you want to discuss, and then set a time and place to meet in the city that never sleeps.

Happy Trading,

Barry Burns
Top Dog Trading