How often have you heard someone say that they just bought a stock because they have a feeling that it is going to move higher? Personally, I hear someone tell me that every single trading day. When I ask them how they know the stock is going to move higher they answer by saying it's a hunch or they heard someone talk about it. Well, in the trading world it is not prudent to take tips or trade on a hunch. There needs to be a sound methodology for taking a trade, otherwise it is just gambling. It is important to note, a good trader has the odds in his favor while a gambler does not. Just think about it, how can a Las Vegas casino stay in business if they do not have the odds in their favor? The answer is they can't. A casino knows that the odds are always in their favor and the longer a gambler plays in the casino the more likely the casino will take their money. As a trader you want to be Steve Wynn, not the guy at the roulette wheel placing bets.
Here are five reasons why a good trader is not a gambler, but more like a Las Vegas casino owner:
1. A good trader takes a position when the odds are in his favor, not when the odds are against him. An educated trader will accomplish this task by using charts and understanding the human emotion that is being displayed on a chart. That is why certain breakout and breakdown patterns continue to reoccur throughout history. The chart pattern is simply recording the human emotion that is taking place in that particular equity.
2. A good trader will know when to cut his loss when he is wrong. The legendary trader Jesse Livermore used to say that a trader should never take more than a 10 percent loss on any position. Even a Las Vegas casino will cut off a hot gambler if they win too much money. When a trader can admit they are wrong on a trade and limit the loss it is much easier to come back from that error. Traders must always use a stop loss.
3. A good trader does not need constant action in the market. A trader only enters a trade when the chart setup favors that he will make money. If the chart setup does not overwhelmingly support a pattern then the trader does not want to be in the position. A gambler constantly needs action; they continuously need to have some type of bet in place at all times. This gambler mentality is one of the reasons why so many people over-trade and lose money. A good trader patiently stalks out a stock or equity waiting for the right chart setup to appear. One thing I have learned over the years is that the worst thing you can do as a trader or investor is to force your will on the market. Chart patterns make money and you must patiently seek the good charts out.
4. A good trader does not trade will with capital they cannot afford to lose. It is so important to be calm and keep all of your senses when trading. I have seen traders enter a position hoping that it is going to work out and their heart rate jumps up like they are running a marathon, this is usually a sign that they are trading too much money. A trader should not use capital that makes them feel uncomfortable. A gambler will usually bet the farm on a single bet, a good trader will not. Gamblers are always doubling down after they lose; this is a recipe for disaster, especially if you are a trader. I have seen traders blow up their entire accounts by doubling down and averaging in.
5. A good trader does not take tips from others, but looks at the chart and decides whether the pattern is bullish or bearish. Have you ever been to a horse track? Half of the bets in a horse race are because someone has given someone else a tip. Good traders do their own due diligence and never listen to the public. Remember, when everyone is looking at the same thing it will rarely happen. Never take tips. Even the legendary Jesse Livermore admitted this to be one of his biggest mistakes as it was usually one of the main reasons for his trading losses.