Category Archives: Money Management

Law of Large numbers and its implication in Trading

Trading Journal

Besides loving to trade and playing cricket, I am an ardent subscriber to the statistical concept – the law of large numbers. According to probability theory, the law of large numbers is a theorem that describes the result of performing the same experiment a large number of times. Moreover, the average of the results obtained from a large number of trials should be close to the expected value, and will tend to become closer as more trials are performed.

Let us look at some illustrations first before talking about its implications in trading.

Law of Large numbers and Coin toss

Law of large numbers is best illustrated by the example of a coin flip, which has a 50% chance of landing on heads. If we flip the coin twice, we have almost exactly equal chances of any scenario happening: heads twice, tails twice, or evenly split. The probability of getting 5 heads and 5 tails on ten flips is just 8% but that probability keeps increasing as we increase the sample size. If one flips the coin 100 times, the probability of getting 50 heads and 50 tails (P=0.5) increases to 70% and so on.

Below is a depiction of the Law of Large Numbers in action, for 1000 trials –

Workshop

As one can see, the more the sample size (trials) is, the probability of getting equal number of heads/tails increases.

Law of large numbers and casinos

Coin flips are interesting theoretically, but the Law of Large numbers has a number of practical implications in the real world as well.

A famous example is Casinos – who can forget the ringing sound of slot machines/clamoring laughters sound in the craps table of Casino halls. Casinos live and die by the law of large numbers. Each game has a house edge built into it, representing the average loss over the initial bet. Some sample edges are –

* Blackjack – 0.75%
* Baccarat – 1.2%
* Craps – 1.4%
* Roulette – 5%
* Slot machines – 5-10%

Over longer time frames, it becomes increasingly likely that the house edge will represent the casino’s profit margin.

Law of large numbers and trading

When it comes to trading, many misinterpret(in a negative way) this law of large numbers. They think that the more they trade, they would have more losses which leads to account blow-up. If a traders’ methodology has a statistical ‘edge’, and if he does not change the underlying parameters on the way, it is better for a trader to let the law of large numbers to work in his/her favor.

Trading decisions may appear to be binary – either buy or sell or up or down, but they are not. There are a critical variables which must be accounted for, such as how much am willing to lose/how to trail the profits, or in other words, what is the risk/reward of the trade and how do I manage the trade. So, there is something other than chance that comes into play when trading, and that is skill and technique.

It stands to reason then, that the better your skills and technique, the more you should trade. While Law of large numbers is important because it “guarantees” stable long-term results for random events, it follows that it is also important that our sample of trades is large enough to maximize the number of successful outcomes from our skillful trades and therefore maximize your earning potential. So, if it sounds so simple, why does traders do not allow this law to work for themselves? Why do they jump ships on the way(changing trading systems)?

Think about this for a second. The trader starts trading their plan with all good intentions. Things may or may not go well straight away, but sooner or later as the markets behavior ebbs and flows with/against the strategy’s strengths and weaknesses, losing trades will inevitably occur. At this point of time, the trader gets scared. They don’t like to give money back to the market, so they decide to try and modify the system to filter out trades like that last losing one. They begin to add indicators to charts, coming up with new ever more convoluted combinations, furiously testing to see what cuts out the most bad signals while leaving in place the good ones. A few times round this loop and suddenly, their chart starts to resemble something a seismologist might be more used to seeing than a price chart 🙂 As a result, again, the loop starts – they never let ‘law of large numbers’ to work as they dont stick around with one idea. Law of large numbers will be rendered meaningless if we keep changing the rules on the way.

Law of large numbers and behavioral difficulties

To let the law of large numbers work for us, we need to put trade after trade, over and over again without changing the underlying parameters. Just like onerously bolting on wheels on an automobile assembly line, making a series of trades can be very tedious. It may be hard to maintain self-control at times. It is understandable. We are human, and humans have a strong primal urge to seek out drama and action.

The kind of person who is attracted to trading is not the person who prefers tedium to excitement. This is the raw fact. If we are a trader, we’re probably the kind of person who has shunned a mundane 9-to-5 job for a more unconventional, adventurous profession (many come to trading for this reason). The excitement of working as a full time, active trader appeals to us. We thrive on the uncertainty and endless possibilities. What attracts us to trading, however, may also be a reason for our downfall, unless we are careful. We may be the kind of person who gets bored easily. It is quite possible that the long hours of self-control required to make a profit may be difficult to maintain. This is why many crave for action in the markets. So, eventually, they put on trades that is not part of their plan. It is exactly at this juncture, we break the ‘law of large numbers’ as it assumes that we do the same kind of trades(based on a definite idea) day in/day out. Essentially, we never stick around (or stick around with the same idea) for law of large numbers to work.

How to gain from Law of large numbers

It would be prudent if a trader(new and experienced alike) does the following –

1. Create a trading plan
2. Backtest the plan with large sample size (never fall victim to small sample skewing)
3. Determine your risk based on backtesting parameters
4. Create a money management plan
5. Stick to the plan to let the law of large numbers work

Final thoughts

It is illogical to subscribe to the theory that ” you’re only as good as your last trade. ” If you are going to trade for a living, there is no last trade, only the next trade. Whether, our last trade was a winner or a loser, it has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of our next trade.

Unlike gambling, a winning streak by a trader will NOT eventually be overcome by the parameters of the game, unless he somehow convinces himself that this is his inevitable outcome. Trading is not gambling where the house has the edge (let us not focus on the broker’s commission and negative sum game for a moment). Trading is a performance based activity that requires skill, technique, experience and above all, practice. Most important though, the trader must have the right attitude, focus, patience, and self-confidence, and then the trader will be the one who possesses the edge – not the other way around 🙂

Happy trading !!

Price action trading workshop – Topics

Trading Journal

Received few queries on what would be the topics discussed in the 1-day PAT workshop and here is the probable list –

Morning session topics – the trading strategy

1. Why price action based trading?

2. Market structure – Basics

3. Rallies and declines

4. Details of swing pivot high/lows – how to mark them mechanically (to avoid subjectivity)

5. Trends – what constitutes the trend

6. Analyzing trends based on price action swing pivots

7. Positional mechanical strategy with set of mechanical(rule-based) entry/exit rules

8. Intraday strategy with set of mechanical (rule-based) exit/entry rules

9. Trading results of both positional and intraday strategy – How it has made money consistently in the markets

10. Useful price action tips and tricks to extract more juice from the markets

Afternoon session topics – executing the strategy to trade profitably (albeit consistently)

1. What is an ‘edge’ in a system? How to quantify an ‘edge’? Do I really have an edge in my system?

2. How to efficiently backtest a strategy – what to look for and pitfalls?

3. How to evaluate backtesting results to create a money management plan?

4. Money management in trading – how to tailor made money management based on the backtested results?

5. Trading journal and its importance

6. The real holy grail of trading – Execution

7. Part time trading vs Full time trading – Differences and their effect on our P/L

8. Role of psychology in trading – Everybody talks about discipline/patience but how does that relate to trading success.

Pre-requisites

–*None*–

Who can attend

Anyone who wants to learn price action based trading for both positional and intraday trading

Have more questions?

Please email your questions to marketswithmadan@gmail.com or Whatsapp 96770 36689

Mentoring requests and my response

Mentoring

It is Saturday evening and here I am. Last one month, my email box was swamped with requests for mentoring (as of yesterday, it stands at 32 requests). I was doing ‘blanket’ denial for all the requests except one but due to my natural propensity to respond to questions/requests, I replied to those emails with the reason for denying the requests. Eventually, it came to a point where I thought it is better to compose a blogpost about it.

As trading is a mind-numbing activity for me, in the past decade, I have helped few traders (free of cost) for months together with their trading related despairs and few of them are successfully trading fulltime. As I derive colossal pleasure out of these conversations/interactions, it was a win-win situation for me.

Rough plan for mentoring

Out of these 32 requests, I already took a person under my wings to assist in his trading career. He came up with his own system (as am not a system seller, I told him clearly that I will not help him with system building from scratch but I would be able to help him out to enhance it).

Having walked his path before, I think am more like a watchtower for his trading related activities and I believe I can positively impact his trading progress. I spend 1 hr per week over the phone with him and have few conversations over email/chat about his trading related evolution. We both know that there are no guarantee of success for him due to this relationship but we hope that it will shorten his learning curve (when someone who has walked his path is able to guide).

As I don’t have a structured way of doing this activity, this is what I have in mind for him. (We are in step 2 of the process right now)

1. If needed, enhancing his existing system (if am able to spot any logical flaw in entry/exit based on my experience, would suggest that). If the system sounds logically good to me, we go to the next step.

2. As there are 100s of ways to make money in the markets, we quickly progressed on to this step (sticking with the 1st step for a longer time is tantamount to ‘holy grail’ search).

So, backtesting the system for atleast 5-10 years to derive parameters to analyze if it is going to suit the trader’s psychology and if it is worth putting the money in. One system will not suit everyone (so he has to come up with his own) and if a trader is already attuned with his existing system (by trading it live) but not profitable consistently, he is an ideal person for me to help out.

3. Devise a money management plan based on his trading capital, his risk comfort level and backtested parameter (and if he has real trades with the system, nothing like it).This step will take some insightful thinking from my side.

4. Risk management (can be a part of money mgmt) – maximum importance would be given to this step to ascertain the risk appetite/goal of the trader. At the end of the day, risk determines our longevity in this profession.

5. Then, real trading starts – emotions kick-in. So, it is time for the trader to understand how emotions affects trading and how to embrace them (and not fight them out). We will probably handle fear of loss, fear of missing out, taking profits early and fear of pulling the trigger. These are the common roadblocks in a trader’s mind.

6. Once we go through step #5 (which is an ongoing process), we move on to handling drawdown part – both points and time drawdown. Hopefully, I would have fortified the trader about his system drawdown in step 2 itself (during backtesting) but real trading invokes the ‘real’ emotions out of us.

7. Helping him out in increasing position size slowly but steadily – not exponentially. The money management will have a clear-cut crisp plan to do this position size increase.

8. Once the trader is successful consistently (and able to execute his system with atleast 95% efficiency), I guess my job is done. I might have created a trader who can live on his own and hopefully, help others to achieve the same.

Vital pre-requisites I look for

I like to try out new things and as i have never done this before, am thinking of assisting 2 more folks (and hopefully to develop a good friendship in the long run) but i have certain pre-requisites in mind

1. A person with good character, ethics, and morals.

2. Be a person who is committed to things, dedicated, and have a stick-to-it approach

3. Someone who is looking to do things that may be uncomfortable for him to become better.

4. Minimum of 5 lacs in his trading account (more the better as we will have room for efficient money management). If someone is an intraday player, the required trading account size can be a tad lower.

5. Atleast 1-2 years of trading the markets (part time or full time). Cannot be a complete newbie

6. At least 2 hours per day dedicated for backtesting and reading chart patterns (Believe me – this is tremendous amount of work as we will do bar-by-bar replay and few iterations would be there). System building is just 20% of the game but it forms the foundation to the remaining 80% – to be successful in trading.

Fees for this relationship

I was doing this for free all along (and still do) and have spent numerous hours with few folks when I was in Bangalore but later figured out that people do not value the time if it is done free – free meals are only worth that much, I guess. They just squander away the time spent as if it meant nothing. Honestly, it is not about the money as I don’t need this extra money at all but it will make the trader more accountable and he will come to the table more planned with sound questions/utmost sincerity. It will make me accountable too.

Am planning to charge something that is not too less for the trader to consider this as a pastime or too high for the trader to think it as a burden. 20k per month is the figure I have in mind.

So, if you think you have what it takes to be a successful trader (and meet the pre-requisites), please email me with your background in trading/what has happened so far to ‘marketswithmadan@gmail.com’. If you are a free-loader/don’t take this profession seriously/do not meet the pre-requisites/do not have a system already (atleast a skeleton), please don’t bother to email me.

Hopefully this post gives me a chance to interact with only serious folks who want to do something about their trading profession (or take it to next level).

Happy trading all !!

Introduction – Growing small trading account into a bigger one

This is Madan and I have been trading for a living for the past 10 years. As I find myself doing nothing most of the time during market hours, I was wondering if I could help/facilitate few traders to take a small account to a big-sized one. I have done this growing ‘small’ account to a big sized one personally and have seen many traders struggle to move up in size for numerous years. I strongly believe that this little activity in twitter would give them a few ideas and the confidence to scaleup in the future.

Is there a way to grow a small account without taking unjustified risk, is the question I wish to address.

Most folks I know do not come into trading the stock market with more than 1 crore. So, it might always baffle a new or even an experienced trader on how to move up to the next level in trading account size. After all, we are not coming into the markets everyday (waiting countless hours tolerantly for our setup to show) to make just 50k per month. We did not come to this profession to keep trading single digit lots (if you trade futures), did we? If our account size does not grow steadily over a period of time, then there is something basically wrong with our trading approach and / or our discipline / psychology.

Having said that, when one starts trading a small account (say 2 lacs), the person has a fabulous advantage over others as he has all the time to make all the mistakes without wiping himself out financially. Many traders take imprudent levels of risk early in their trading career and never survive their learning curve. Trading small account has its own caveats too – one can get comfortable with the given trading size quickly and that might translate into a psychological road-block when we move up in size.

The best way to grow a small account is to ‘gradually’ increase the position size. If one has a positive edge in the markets, growing a small account gradually can be dealt effectively with proper money management.

I will be posting live Nifty intraday trades (as a disclaimer, am not asking anyone to follow my recommendations. This is just for demonstration purpose) So, here are the key points to ponder for this activity.

  1. The primary objective behind this activity is to demonstrate that someone with an edge can make trading a successful profession. It will also enable the trader to understand that discipline and patience with prudent money management can do miracles in the long run.
  2. Our objective is to earn 125-points profit per month on an average, by trading Nifty futures intraday. I can hear people mumbling to themselves ‘Is this guy for real? Just 125 points per month’. Yes – am for real and am very serious about it. We don’t need a spectacular system to build a big account, but we just need the grit to follow the system that has an edge (plus acceptable drawdown) and implement practical money management ideas. Some months we make more, some months we make less and some months can go negative as well. But, the keyword is ‘average’.
  3. As it is a Nifty intraday system, trades can happen anytime from 9:15 am to 2:45 pm. We will NOT initiate new trades after 2:45 PM and as we will be utilizing MIS margin (it is around 25k as of this writing), all trades will be exited around 3:20 PM (or as per the broker requirement) to avoid brokers compulsory closing of trade.
  4. The Stop-loss will be given when the trade-entry is posted, and target will always be open. If there is no tweet about the exit or if the SL is not hit until 3 PM, then we trail 5 minutes bar low for long trades to exit until 3:20 PM. We will exit the trade at 3:20 PM, if it is still open. A lot of our queries will be cleared once we go through a few trades.
  5. Average points per year = 1,500 Points (125-points per month x 12 months)
    Average number of trades per month = 20 (approx. 1 trade per trading day).
    Again, we are talking about the ‘average’ number of trades per month. So, it is possible that we might end up taking 2 or even 3 trades in a day and probably end up not taking any trades on a few other days.This system is not something that can catch every bottom and top. It is a simple/modest price action system that is based on both trending and breakout failures with simple rules. As other parameters are not vital for this activity, I would not get into further details of the system (and its parameters).
  6. If someone is trading in the markets for more than 10 years, he would have realized that making 1500 points per year consistently in Nifty (on an average) is no trifling task. Reasons are multifold but let us stick to the point that is more relevant here – the lack of consistency in executing the plan and ignoring/not managing ‘risk’ properly are primary reasons for this inability to make 1,500-points per year. As am a full-time trader for almost a decade now, I can safely say that we will strive to be consistent and be cognizant of all the risk we take.
  7. If we look at the Money Management plan that I posted, We have used 40K (including 200 points DD) for 1 lot but are using 50k per lot. We will keep 10k as a buffer amount incase of contingencies. We will invoke the buffer amount if we see unforeseen circumstances.


    I have mentioned that making 1,750 points can help us scale up from 4 lots to 25 lots in Nifty. Earning those 1,750 points can take us a year or two maybe. But, we are not bothered about how long it takes to reach 1,750 points but rather we will focus on how safely we reach there. We are not fixing any timeframe for our goals as we cannot have static targets in markets, which is dynamic in nature.

  8. If a trader can understand that Money and risk management are more essential than the system itself, he can extrapolate this belief into his own trading system and bring out the desired results as well. So, it is essential for us to understand that the crux of the activity is to reap long term benefits.
  9. By working on building a small account slowly and properly, we will be in a much better position than if we take wild/undue risks. Having a get rich quick belief in trading can decimate accounts more than anything else. Remember,  NO CAPITAL = NO TRADING
  10. As I always say, focus on the process in trading and end-result (money) will automatically follow.

I am looking forward to this activity as much as you do and would like to end this post with this departing thought – Being consistent in any activity (let alone trading) is not a one-day/week/month affair. It would serve us well if we view it as a continuous journey. We need to do structured set of things every day to bring that consistency in us. In small ways, every day, we must strive to be the person we want to become until, one day, it all comes naturally.

Happy trading !!