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How To Buy (or Short) Breakouts in Day Trading and Swing Trading

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One of the most common questions I receive in the “ASK BARRY” forms available at this Blog is “How do I buy breakouts?”

Since it’s a question that comes in over and over I decided it was time that I answer it in my Blog.

I wasn’t comfortable trading breakouts in my early years of trading. It didn’t feel comfortable to me. In my gut it just didn’t feel right.

One of my trading teachers loved to trade breakouts. He traded them almost exclusively from what I could tell. I trained with him off and on for a couple years.

I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and become proficient at trading those breakouts with the best of them.

So did I succeed?

Yes and no.

Despite training with that teacher for a couple years, I never did feel comfortable with his method. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good or that it didn’t “work.” But trading is an individual endeavor and since I’m trading my own money, I need to feel comfortable with the trading method.

What fits one person may not fit another.

However, through that process I developed my own method for trading breakouts that I’ve been using for years now. I love it because the risk is so minuscule and the rewards can be astronomical.

Plus, I get in before the crowds … and that’s the secret.

How do I do it?

I created a free trading video to demonstrate it for you and posted it at FreeIQ, which is a great site where you can get a lot of free information in videos and ebooks.

You can go here now to see my free 10 minute video on how I trade breakouts.

I invite you to write a review of the video after you watch it.

Enjoy!

How Football Ruined My Trading

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Do you think trading is simply about finding a good technical “setup,” then you’ll have a virtual cash machine for the rest of your life?

Think again.

Trading is mostly psychological.

Well, successful trading is.

You’ve probably heard that before. But most traders don’t believe it.

More accurately: Most amateur traders don’t believe it. The professional traders ALL believe it!

I was born in Detroit and raised on the suburbs just a couple miles from the city limit. Lived in the same 2-bedroom house my entire childhood.

Both of my parents were born and raised in Detroit.

So I grew up as a fan of the Detroit sports teams.

  • Go Tigers!
  • Go Lions!

I’m not much of a baseball fan, but I sure do love football.

Over the last few years, the Detroit Lions have broken many records … unfortunately they’ve been records of formerly “worst” football teams! The Lions became an embarrassment.

I moved to California about 16 years ago, but I’m still a Detroit boy at heart. And I still get more excited about the Detroit teams than I do for the California teams (however, don’t get me started on the fact that L.A. doesn’t have a team in the NFL).

2 years I subscribed to a satellite service that broadcast nearly every NFL game of the season. This allowed me to start watching the Lions again. Very exciting … until the season started.

They lost game after game after game after …

So sad.

So depressing.

And it wasn’t just that they lost games. They played terribly!

And guess what?

The more I watched the Lions lose, the more I lost money at trading!

Crazy?

Not really.

As I said, I love football. REALLY love it! So I got very involved with the game, the players, the coaches. I got very emotionally involved in every game.

When they lost, I felt like a loser.

“MY” team lost.

And so I’d start my trading week on Monday feeling like a loser.

Take it from me – NEVER TRADE WHEN YOU FEEL THAT WAY!

It took me a few weeks until I connected trading with football. My wife actually pointed it out to me (wives are great for that sort of thing).

She never watched the games (as much as I love football, she hates it). But every Sunday afternoon she’d come out of hiding and notice my mood and say “Lions lost again today?” And sadly that mood would carry over into Monday and Tuesday.

Yep, pretty ridiculous, I know.

I never stopped my affection for the Lions. I didn’t want to be a “fair-weather fan.” But the truth was that I cared too much, it actually affected my self-image, and so my inner-trader had to yell at me to “Step away from the football!”

Trading requires confidence and a positive attitude. It’s a performance and you must feel like a winner because that attitude will carry over into your trading behavior.

Perhaps for you it’s not football.

But examine your life for what makes you feel like a winner or a loser. Cut those things out of your life that affect your attitude negatively and add more of those things that make you feel like a winner.

So how did I solve the problem?

GO RED WINGS!

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Postscript: I do have to add an extremely well-deserved: “Way to Go!” to the Lions this year as they’ve made an amazing turn-around. I’m proud of them and am watching their games again. Keep up the good job guys!

What Keeps You From Trading Success?

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Time for some FUN!

Let’s take a poll. Not only will the exercise be fun, but you’ll get instant access to the results of what others are saying.

Of course all polling is completely anonymous. No names will show, only numbers.

The poll only has ONE QUESTION. It’s multiple choice and should take you about 12 seconds to complete.

But there are 2 separate polls:

  • A poll for swing traders (those who trade with the intention of holding positions overnight).
  • A poll for day traders (those who trade with the intention of not holding positions overnight).

Here are the benefits of this poll:

  1. We’ll see if there are different problems preventing people from succeeding whether they are day traders or swing traders … or if the primary obstacles are identical.
  2. You’ll see if your problems are the same as everyone else’s, or if your problems are unique to you.
  3. I will use the results of the survey to provide you with free educational material in my blog entries and YouTube videos on the topics that people are struggling with the most.

If you are both a swing trader and a day trader, I invite you to complete both polls.

Here are the links to the polls:

  • Swing Traders: http://www.squidoo.com/swingtrader
  • Day Traders: http://www.squidoo.com/TopDogDayTrading

Go there now and have some fun.

There’s also more free trading information at both of these pages, so you’ll have to scroll down the page a bit to find the poll.

There’s also a Guestbook where you can suggest more questions for the poll. Right now there’s only one question there, but I’d like your input to add more questions.

Feel free to go back at any time and get updates on the polls as they update in real time.

Remember, by completing these polls, you’ll be getting free trading materials from me on the topics you indicate you need the most help with.

Help me, help you … and together let’s make some serious coin!

Here are the links to the polls:

  • Swing Traders: http://www.squidoo.com/swingtrader
  • Day Traders: http://www.squidoo.com/TopDogDayTrading

Enjoy!

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-e425e8472ad1b7f2a34ed1dd8ef7c30f}

Question: What is the Best Interval for Day Trading? Part 2

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This may very well be the most common question I receive. I wrote a blog entry about this same topic on July 13, 2007 in which I used the question to share why I prefer tick intervals to minute intervals for day trading. But now it’s definitely time to address the question head-on. So here’s how I decide on the chart interval I’m going to use for any given market. I’ll use the example of tick charts, but it applies to minute charts as well.

You will be looking for the best chart interval for your “setup chart” (the time frame where you identify the setups you trade). Once you find that, you simply multiply that time frame by whatever number you choose for your confirmation chart (the next higher time frame). I always use a confirmation chart that is 3 times the interval of my setup chart.

You start with your money management rule of what you have decided will be your maximum risk per trade. Usually this is a percentage of your total trading account. The number you choose will depend on your own risk tolerance, but is typically between 1/2% and 2%.

Simply start with any tick (or minute) increment and then looking at a historical chart, you examine where your entries and stops would be on that chart. Would a total loser be less than your maximum risk per trade?

Look at 20 or 30 entries:

If a lot of them are more than the maximum risk, then you need to go to a shorter time frame.

If they’re all less than the max risk, but a lot less, then you need to go to a higher time frame.

Get as close to your max risk without going over it at least 90% of the time. This gives you the best combination of keeping your losses small, and keeping the “noise” of a short time-frame to a minimum.

Just keep adjusting the time frame until you find the interval that best fits those guidelines.

This is the BEST way to find the right interval for you. But there are a couple of other things to consider:

1. If your trading account is very small and your maximum risk is a small percentage of that, then you may have to use an interval that is so fast that it’s very noisy. Obviously that’s not a good situation and the only way out of it is to have a larger trading account. Many traders are simply underfunded and this can be a large part of the reason for their failure.

2. The faster the time frame, the less time you have for identifying and entering a trade. This can result in missing entries. How fast is too fast? The answer to that varies from person to person. It depends on how fast your mind and fingers are! You’ll only know that by trading and finding out for yourself. But if you find yourself having a hard time getting into trades that you see, you may want to go to a higher time frame.

3. The psychological need for trading frequency. If you go to a chart interval that is too long, then your trade frequency may get beyond your attention span. Longer-term intervals are good for proving more accurate signals, but they provide fewer trades in a given period of time. This can lead to missing trades, not because the market is moving too fast, but because there is so little for you to do, that you get distracted and don’t see the setups when they come.

4. You may also want to use an interval that is very popular. This especially applies to minute charts. 5 minute charts and 60 minute charts are very common time frames and it can be helpful to use them simply to see what everyone else is looking at.

Some traders use what I call “magic numbers” for chart intervals – usually Fibonacci numbers – thinking they have some significance. In my opinion, that is a completely meaningless way to choose a time frame.

The above suggestions will provide a chart interval that is based on finding the time frame that is the best intersection of sound money management principles and your own trading psychology needs.

That’s a “meaningful” way to find the best time frame for your charts.