Tag Archives: Position sizing

Twitter poll on expectancy

Trading Journal

I had put a poll on twitter yesterday with options to choose from various combinations of Winrate and Risk:Reward(RR)

Here is the twitter link:

44% of the voters chose Option 4, 32% of the voters chose Option1, followed by Option 2 and Option3 respectively.

Before getting into the groove of things, I would like to elucidate a bit about ‘Expectancy’ of a system. This term was coined by Van Tharp and here it is:

Expectancy = (Win rate x Average winner) – (Loss rate x Average loser)

If we insert this formula with the numbers given in the poll, We get the following –

Expectancy of System 1 = (0.5×2.2) – (0.5×1) = 1.1 – 0.5 = 0.6

Expectancy of System 2 = (0.7×1.2) – (0.3×1) = 0.84 – 0.3 = 0.54

Expectancy of System 3 (I meant to give the RR of system 3 as 1:0.8 but gave it as 0.8:1 – we will stick to what was given in the poll)
= (0.8×1) – (0.2×0.8) = 0.8 – 0.16 = 0.64

Expectancy of System 4 = (0.35×4) – (0.65×1) = 0.75

So, what is this expectancy? Expectancy is how much one can expect to make on the average over many trades. Expectancy is best stated in terms of how much you can make per rupee you risk. Tharp talks in terms of R-multiples but let us just focus on it in layman terms.

If someone risks 1% per trade and their system expectancy is 0.5, it just means that over a large sample of trades, he is expected to make 0.5% (1% x 0.5) per trade. So, if he has 100 trades in a year, he is expected to make (100×0.5%) 50% that year.

Surface level analysis of the poll results

1. It is quite obvious from the above calculation that higher the expectancy, greater is your chances of making money in the markets. So, as a new trader, it is pretty easy to select the option # 4 from the choices. No brainer there.

2. Few people pointed out that Option 1 is better as it is easy on psychology of the trader. It is true to an extent but if one is striving for better risk adjusted returns, option 4 is the obvious choice again (especially for a pure trend follower). Different people, different choices 😊

3. Some people take profits on the way and they would have naturally gravitate towards a better winrate system with lesser R:R. The traders who trail profits will almost always have a lower WR but better RR system in hand.

4. As I always advocate that there are various ways to skin the cat, nothing is right or wrong here. We just need to pick what is comfortable for us. But, if one has to analyse logically, it is option 4. On a side note, one comment mentioned that we need to find system that have a expectancy like the choices mentioned 😊. Fair enough !!

5. The traders who are new to the market gets enamored by the high winrate for a very simple reason – typically, they don’t want to take losses (Forget about newcomers – even the experienced lot do not like to take losses). Their mind can never get around in accepting the losses. So, they naturally gravitate towards high winrate as high WR typically means more number of winners than losers. But, what they forget is the other side of the coin – the Risk:Reward. They lose more when they lose and win less when they win. This has many statistical implications. We will see that in detail in the next section of this post.

6. Winrate and Risk:Reward should be seen together. They are like peas and carrots, day and night – always go together. This is why I like this expectancy as it nicely clubs both the parameters to give a logical view of the system in hand.

7. Few people have voted for option 3 as they feel high winrate can give them the psychological comfort – again, this is just another way of telling that ‘I don’t want to take losses’. As some great trader mentioned. ‘avoiding losses in trading is like you want to breathe in but don’t want to breathe out’. But if it works for you, great !!

In-depth analysis of the poll

1. Most of the stock market strategies employ trend following concept and the pure essence of trend following is to let the profits run. So, the detailed analysis is based on that assumption.

2. First let us dissect what High Winrate really means. Typically, a high WR system will have low Risk:Reward (compare to a low WR with same expectancy). This is a given. But, this also means that the average loser of a high WR system is usually larger than a low WR system(assuming the timeframe and expectancy are the same). In a trend following system, high WR is usually achieved by giving so much room for the market to catch the trend. Statistically, bigger SL will have a huge drawdown potential (am talking about maximum drawdown) and if the max DD is high, it is very difficult to proceed with the system for two important reasons –

a) The recovery factor will be high – meaning the number of trades it takes to get back to equity high(again) will be more and the problem exasperates if someone is trading higher timeframe. People grossly underestimate time drawdown – but it is a different topic altogether

b) Compounding can be a big problem for a system with larger max DD for obvious reasons

3. When a system has a bigger SL (again assumption is that we are talking about pure trend following systems with trailing stoplosses) like a moving average crossover system, the time the market spends between the entry point and stoploss is huge. This has so many psychological ramifications –

a) It can create havoc to our mind as it will feel that we are always in loss (even though it is not realized). One can draw analogy with an investor who enters a stock and the stock is underwater for 2-3 years. It is a very tough phase for that investor if he is still holding it.

b) It can force a trader to make mistakes (not following the plan) and just letting the emotions take the driver seat (how many of us have heard this ‘ I felt uncomfortable in the trade and got out but only to see the market moving in my favor again’). So, wider SL is a fertile ground for all these mishaps in the thought process.

On the other hand,if WR is less with smaller average losses, it will diminish the active trade time in grey area (between entry and SL) and give us a big advantage mentally.

4. Lesser WR and higher RR generally means smaller losses (compared to high WR and low RR/same expectancy system) and consequently, a trader can be well equipped for the proverbial series of losses in a row. One can place large number of bets or trades before we reach out max limit. So taking randomness into account, we give ourselves a fair chance to be in the game. Not to mention, these smaller SLs will also cap the maximum DD and will keep it nicely in control.

The below picture shows the 95% probability of losing streaks for various winrates. Even a 50% winrate system can have 16 losses in a row over 5000 trades. It is not a question of how but it is a question of when.


5. On the flip side, Low WR and high RR will never have even distribution of profits as the system will turn positive only with large profits. If one misses those trades, then the performance would be pretty dismal.

6. The interesting thing is that most of us would feel better with a system that produces more winning trades than losers. The vast majority of people would have a lot of trouble with the 4th system (even though it has the best statistical advantage compared to other systems) because of our natural tendency to want to be right all of the time.

7. As I always say ‘there is nothing right or wrong’ in the markets. We just need to choose what is comfortable for us. The battlecry is ‘how to find the one that is comfortable for us?’. Very simple – try them all with minimum size. Your mind will naturally cling towards the one that is comfortable for you 😊

Happy trading !!

Price action based trading + System trading Workshop


As many of you know, i have been trading just the price (a.k.a naked trading) for the last 12 years and was receiving requests to take classes/workshop on how I do price action trading in a mechanical way(absolutely no discretion involved). Heeding to the popular request, I have decided to share the knowledge to people who are interested to learn. My goal is not only to teach you naked (no indicators) price action based trading for both positional and intraday trading but also about how to consistently make money in the markets – the A to Z of trading

Summary of Workshop details

In the first part of the Workshop, I will talk about the basic concepts in Price action based trading and combine advanced knowledge/experience to make the concept an actionable trading strategy that can be used immediately. Many of the price action based strategies are discretionary in nature but as am a rule based trader, I will be teaching you a simple rule-based strategy (for both positional and intra) that can be used as a basic building block to trade any asset class including stocks, options and futures.

In the second part of the workshop, I will round out the course by teaching you how to backtest a strategy effectively (to understand its efficacy in real trading), build a money management plan based on the parameters and Risk management plan along with trading psychology that is required to make money from the markets consistently. I will also help you learn about building a successful trading plan, whether you are a part-time trader or full-time trader.

On the whole, this one day workshop would be a complete package with a discussion about the methodology and using the method in practical real-time trading.

Who can attend

1. Anyone who wants to learn price action based trading for both positional and intraday trading
2. Traders with little experience but do not make money (Only lose money)
3. Traders who make money but not consistently
4. Traders who make money consistently but cannot scale up in trading size

Morning Session Topics – the trading strategy

1. Why price action based trading? – They say ‘Price is the king and it precedes everything’. Is it really true?
2. Market structure – Basics
3. Rallies and declines
4. Details of structural pivot high/lows – how to mark them mechanically (to avoid subjectivity)
5. Trends – what constitutes the trend
6. Analyzing trends based on price action structural pivots
7. Positional mechanical strategy with multiple set of mechanical (rule-based) entry/exit rules. Participants can choose the best set of rules based on their psychological comfort level
8. Intraday strategy with multiple set of mechanical (rule-based) exit/entry rules. Participants can choose the best set of rules based on their psychological comfort level
9. 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 find the optimal risk to be taken per trade?
4. Why taking 2% risk per trade will not work for everyone (like the way it is suggested in popular books)?
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 – will be covering the below mentioned points in psychology
a) How to create a consistent equity curve so you can get off the roller-coaster ride and sleep at night.
b) How to dramatically ‘level up’ your consistency and escape the ‘Sneaky Mental Trap’ that sabotages your profitability when things get ‘too good’
c) The little-understood way to handle fear that separates successful traders from those who are doomed to fail (Finally, operate at your true potential!)
d) How to become a better trader by becoming a better version of yourself (and why market conditions have very little to do with your results)
e) How to know if your mind is tricking you into taking lame trades with low profit potential and holding you back from the results you truly desire

Capital required for executing the method

1 lac/ lot for Intraday trading
2 lacs/lot for Positional trading (this can change based on the price of the instrument you are trading)

Fees, timings and location

Fees : Rs. 12000/person (Inclusive of Morning Tea/Snacks, Lunch (Veg & Non- Veg buffet), Evening Tea/Snacks)
Timings : 9 AM – 6 PM

Bangalore date and location:

Date: December 15, 2018
Location: –TBD–

Chennai date and location:

Date: January 5, 2019
Location: –TBD–


Contact details

If you want to be part of the workshop and need further details on payment, please email marketswithmadan@gmail.com or Whatsapp 96770 36689

Participants feedback of Workshops
(please click on the Date/time link below to goto the specific tweet)

Additional Perks of attending the workshop

1. Telegram support group for the attendees (1 month duration) to clear out workshop related doubts.
2. My favorite PDF books on Money management, psychology and much more.
3. Psychocybernetics – my favorite NLP technique audio CD will be shared with the attendees

Happy trading and looking forward to meeting you in-person !!

Reasons and lessons behind blowing up trading accounts


“Blowing up” means we took the account down to basically zero, where we couldn’t place a trade any longer, or something similarly distressing.

As many of you know already, I have blown up a couple accounts in my days. None for many years thankfully, but it has happened. I view it as part of the learning experience, and naturally in hindsight it would be very easy to see why I blew up, and that I deserved it.

We can’t expect to make poor trades and be consistently profitable. Blowing up an account (no matter how large or small) isn’t necessary to become successful, but it has a tendency to smack us on the head with reality. It also seems to separate the pretenders from the contenders.

If we are willing to evaluate the damages after blowing up, then regroup and come back to attack with the new knowledge gained, we’re on our way. There’s no guarantee of success, but we’re a step closer than we were before. Like the old proverb says – “A man who wishes to travel a 100 miles should consider himself halfway at 90 miles.

Let us stick to the point here for a moment. There are numerous reasons for blowing up an account and I would like to highlight a few here.

Reasons for blowing up an account

1. Trading without stoploss

I can still clearly recall several times in my trading career where I thought I had solved the puzzle, and literally unlocked the mystic gateway (holy grail) to making money in trading. During those times, I would repetitively see the price hitting my SL and atleast come back to original entry point(or move into profits). This created a new connection in my brain and the next time the trade goes near the stoploss, I would gladly remove(or move the SL away from the entry further) the SL as market has a tendency to come back to breakeven point. Boy, I was so wrong. This can be brutal to the trading account.

2. Focusing on potential gains and not potential losses – ignoring risk

When we do focus on potential gains and not on potential losses, we tend to trade bigger (by usually using more leverage and not necessarily more capital) or risk more to get those desired returns.

Those who focus on making as much money as possible while ignoring risk will invariably lose the majority of their accounts. No matter how talented we are, we will face ruin, just as Jesse Livermore did and Victor Niederhoffer did on several occasions. Even the best traders like Alexander Elder and Nicolas Darvas blew up accounts when they first got started. Why? We simply can’t out trade the risk of ruin. If we risk a consistent 10% of our initial starting capital per trade we are done after just 10 losses. Everyone who has traded for any length of time has had ten losses in a row. If we risk 1% of our total starting capital per trade, 10 losses in a row will only bring us down 10%.

3. Not tracking the trades

A trader executes a strategy (usually not well-tested) and accumulates losses due to standard drawdown. But, without a trading journal, it is almost impossible to know where we are or are going, if we have no record of where we have been. I strongly believe one of the best things a trader can do is start keeping a journal.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case for most of the traders. In the process of selecting candidates for mentoring, I had talked to at-least 60 people and the common theme among these budding traders is that they never maintain a history of their trades.

Lessons learned from blowing up an account

1. Taking responsibility for our actions

What I learned during these painful events was that I was wrong. I took responsibility. That is the first step.

Taking responsibility is the key. Accepting that we (temporarily) failed, and that we don’t know everything. From there, we can start building a solid foundation. We should be asking questions like what happened and why. This isn’t so much about investigating specific trades, but instead analyzing our overall behavior.

For example, did we bring a new methodology from forums/twitter without fully testing it? This is a difficult lesson to learn, particularly because most people simply don’t know how to properly test. So then, we would have to acknowledge we didn’t test properly (if at all), and go about learning how to do that.

2. Maintaining proper risk management

Another very difficult lesson was that we can be right about a trade, but still lose money. The market can remain irrational longer than we can remain solvent. This lesson involves learning about risk and proper money management, so that when we are in a bad trade it doesn’t do crushing damage to our account.

A key lesson is that we must live to fight another day. The single most important factor in trading is survival. The longer our survive, the more experience we gain, and eventually given enough time that experience will become valuable by providing we an edge over all of those with less of it.

3. Recording the trades – Trading Journal

The lesson we learn from the journal is not about recording our trades and screenshots, it is about learning our behavior. We must routinely go back and analyze what we have written, identify mistakes and patterns. Learning about our strengths and weaknesses in an objective way is crucial, so that we can then further develop in those areas. It is critical to be honest in our journal. It is important to talk about why we made a trade or decision, not just list the entry and exit price. It will also be helpful if we record our emotions during entry, while in the trade and during exit. This would clearly demarcate our emotions during those times and would reflect back on which feelings are overwhelming us and when.

4. Get out of simulated(paper) trading

Many aspiring traders sit on simulated environment (paper trading) for a long time – sometime months and even years together. I always advocate that paper trading is virtually worthless as a learning tool (unless it is done to understand about the trading software nitty-gritties) and when I unequivocally put that point across, people can’t reconcile that thought easily as it directly undermine their dream of becoming a successful trader one day.

The fact is, the majority of people are not good traders and are not cut out to make it in this business. It is a very harsh reality, but there is no denying it. Unfortunately, everyone thinks they are the exception to the rule.

If we want to be the exception to the rule, then we have to be put ourselves in a competitive position. That means being sufficiently capitalized, and having sufficient real trading experience (again, paper trading does not count).

You don’t have to take my word for it. Everyone that goes from paper trading to cash loses money, no matter how much of a rock star they were on paper trading. It’s my belief that the longer we are on simulated environment, the worse we condition our mind for bad behavior and thus the more likely we are to fail as a real trader. Again, you don’t have to take my word for it, it has been proven countless times before.

The entire point I am making — paper trading is not trading education. The real education is obtained once we start trading cash. We do not need to risk our monthly salary. Just start by risking a small amount and get off that orgasm-inducing paper trading.

Final thoughts

When we blow up an account, it is time to ask tough questions to ourselves – are we willing to commit the time (and money) that this profession takes to succeed? Look at it like any other profession. We need years of dedication and experience to become successful and even then, it still doesn’t happen for everyone.

When we have a stake in the game, it is completely unlikely what it seems to be when we are just watching it. We will find that trading is mostly about the acceptance and management of risk, and the management of our own reactions when we have money on the line, and are either making it or losing it. Both success and failure have their own psychological/emotional pressures, both can garble our judgment, and learning to handle the issues that both give is probably more than 90 percent of what real trading is about. The things that we are able to learn by studying the market are about 10 percent of the puzzle, if that. Really.

Happy trading all !!

Intraday trading and position sizing

I started this activity to show how we can take a small account to a decent sized account on Feb 5 2018 and we followed fixed position sizing (4 lots) and skipped trades with stoplosses bigger than 20-22 points.

When I traded this system live and took 6lacs to 19 lacs in flat 8 months on compounding, I took all the trades and if SL was bigger than the intended risk, then I would reduce the position size to bring the risk down to the desired level.

On February 19th 2018, I tweeted about reduced position sizing for bigger stoplosses but received several DMs denouncing that idea as few folks are trading with only 1 lot (even though my money management plan clearly stated that we should start with 4 lots). Their contention was that they do not have a way to trade with reduced position size. I thought about it and estimated that we will never come this far w.r.t drawdown (even if we skip bigger SL trades). So, thought to myself that I would stick with the ‘SL too high and so, skip the trade’ logic. Boy, I was so wrong. Big mistake and we are paying the price for that blunder.

Here is the above-mentioned tweet

Just to a give a glimpse of the reduced position size trades and its effect on our net P/L so far. All the big SL trades were profitable trades and that has just increased the mental agony !!

February 2018 – Big SL trades

1. Feb 19 2018 –> Short 10412 (9:50 am) SL = 10451 (39 points) – we should have gone short with 50% position size (to keep the risk percentage constant).Exit at break of 10338 pivot – 74 points profit (for 100% position size). So, with 50% position size, we should have made 35 points profit (after cost on full size).

2. Feb 23 2018 –> Long 10451 (10:30 am) SL = 10418 (33 points) – we should have gone long with 75% position size. Exit at 3:15 pm low 10498 – 47 points profit (full 100% size). Hence, with 75% position size, we should have made 33 points(after cost on full size)

Overall, we missed 2 trades in the month of February because of bigger stoploss. Hence, if we had followed reduced position size logic (the idea is not to miss system trades if SL is big), February 2018 should have been -23(twitter trades points) + 35 + 33 = 45 points.

March 2018 – Big SL trades

1. March 6 2018 –> Short 10375 (2:15 pm) SL = 10406 (31 points) – we should have gone short with 75% position size. Exit at 10260 (3:10 pm bar high) – 115 points profit (for 100% size). Hence with 75% position size, we should have made 84 points (after cost on full size)

2. March 16 2018 –> Short 10315 (11 am) SL = 10345 (30 points) – we should have gone short with 75% position size. Exit at 10224 (3:10 pm bar high) – 91 points profit (for 100% size). Hence with 75% position size, we should have made 66 points (after cost on full size)

3. March 19 2018 –> Short 10181 (10:05 am) SL = 10220 (39 points) – we should have gone short with 50% position size. Exit at 10155 (3 pm bar high) – 26 points profit (for 100% size). Hence with 50% position size, we should have made 11 points (after cost on full size)

Essentially, we missed 3 trades because of bigger stoploss. So, if we had followed reduced position size, March 2018 should have been -104 (twitter trades points) + 84 + 66 + 11 = 57 points.

With this information in hand, it is obvious to see that we should have been up by 102 points in the system(had we taken all the trades with reduced position size) but rather we were down by 127 points at the end of March 2018. A difference of 229 points.

Reduced position size if Stoploss is big

Bygones are bygones. In the first post of this blog, I enunciated how we will deal with this activity and the money required for each lot. Here is the post.

Introduction – Growing small trading account into a bigger one

If we refer to point # 7, it states that “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 believe the time has come to invoke the 10k buffer as we are at 190 points drawdown as of yesterday close.

So, we still have room for 130 more points of drawdown (based on the buffer) and given the fact that the system is faring decently, I think it is time to invoke this buffer amount. So, we will keep continuing the activity (despite numerous trollings and sarcasms hurled on me) until we hit 320 points drawdown. That would be the ‘hard stop’ for the activity. I take complete responsibility for not using reduced position size from February 19th tweet and infact, there have been numerous instances in the past 1.5 months wherein i was advised to take reduced position size for bigger SL trades by my trader friends. Better late than never and i truly believe the error has been rectified now (for the past 2 trades).

Final thoughts

The intention of this post is to elucidate the facts and to see how we can take this forward. Going forward, I will announce the trades as usual in Telegram but if the SL is bigger, we will take reduced position size(as deemed necessary) and 50% or 75% will be mentioned promptly in the message.

Happy trading and have a great weekend ahead !!