good discussion Nader and Fanat.
My only contribution is this: if forex is the chessboard, i look across and find that all too often, I am playing against myself. I am my strongest and most dangerous opponent.
Gambling or not, best to see how you are doing on paper or with meaningless money, over a large sample before you use meaningfull money.
Try 50 /100 trades, sticking to a system and see how you do. Even if it is gambling and I am doing well over a reasonable sample, I would continue and ramp up !
People who play slot machines at the casino for example, are gambling. They are playing in the hopes that they can catch a big win. However, over a series of pulls of the slot, you will always lose because the expectancy is in the casino's favor. Blackjack is the same. Unless you are card counting, then that marginal edge in the casinos favor represents positive expectancy for them, not you. In essence, you are gambling. In the end it all comes down to which way expectancy is turned.
FOREX has a liquidity problem!!! Meaning the brokers have to trade with you, and since your profit in many cases = their loss, then you can see where the money can be found... IN making people lose...
Forex may even be shut down (for little guys) due to inliquidity...
Ok For me it all boils down to intent. If you are trying to get something for nothing then it could be gambling. I know people trade Forex in a gambling style. They want the "Holy Grail" system, they trade without stops, they prop up failing accounts after repeated margin calls etc. They don't trade they just "throw the dice" and chase the trend. You can gamble on almost anything, just hang out with a bunch of guys cooped up on a ship in the navy, or in the baraks in the army. People will gamble on who has the fastest bug! So yes, you can gamble on the outcome of the movement of a chart, but most of us DON'T. We trade and speculate.
From the end of the euromoney article: But, ultimately, the real reason the venture will most likely come to nothing is precisely because market players feel they have little obvious to gain from it. "It canít possibly work. Why would you quote five other banks in large amounts? People will be much more prepared to take their chances on EBS (to shift volume)," says the global head of FX at a US investment bank. "Why would you want to make the strong stronger?"
I was surprised to learn that the average trade size on EBS is just 3 million ...thought it would be much larger. Anyway, I don't think we'll ever need to worry about our little casino being shut down. Even if this evil ring of master banks gets set up, EBS and the like will still exist and quotes will still be provided. They cannot taketh away!
As a side note, Oanda has taught the banks something in innovation: Euromoney talks of Barclaysí introduction of precision pricing, which is effectively trading in pippettes. Oanda has been doing this for yonks!
More to the point, for those who look at the trading arena as being similar to the gambling arena, you may want to read some of Victor Niederhoffer's books, or visit http://dailyspeculations.com/index.htm, his web-site (beware, it takes effort, but it pays). He takes a similar approach.
My view is that you don't make money from winning pots, anyone can win a hand with the right cards and flop, you make your money from folding when your beat. Too many players stay in the hand too long and it eats away at their profits.
I guess I don't consider poker as gambling. It is the only game in a casino that does not have a negative house advantage. You could argue card counting blackjack, but straight up Vegas Strip BJ is -.035 to -.055 depending on the number of decks used. Plus, casinos are cracking down on card counters big time. Merlin's quote is perfect. I guess it all boils down to basic gaming theory and knowing what your edge is.
Just a small paragraph to quote from "Trade Your Way To Financial Freedom" by Dr. Van Tharp...The following is a part from Chapter 11 named "The Opportunity and Cost Factors"
"The Market Maker Who Gets the Bid-Ask Edge on Each Trade, But Occasionally Gets Swept Along by the Market
Our last trader, who represents an extreme, is the market maker. This person tries to get the bid-ask spread on every trade that comes along. Letís say that the bid-ask spread represents a gain of about 8 cents per trade and that our trader gets it about 90 percent of the time. Another 5 percent of his trades are small losses of about 8 cents per trade. However, the last 5 percent of his trades represents the big losses (for him) that he sometimes needs to take when he gets swept along by the market. These losses might amount to $1 per trade.
When our last trader applies these data to the expectancy formula, he arrives at a figure of about 1.8 cents per dollar risked. After transaction costs, he clears about 1.2 cents per dollar risked. How does this particular person make a living? He probably does not have much chance compared with the person who knows how to make more than a dollar for every dollar risked. Or does he?"
Dr. Tharp is comparing 4 different types of traders using 4 different types of trading systems in here...In brief, they are as follows:
Trader 1: Long-Term Trend Following with a Large R-Multiple Objective
This trader has a system expectancy (Which is the dollar amount gained per dollar risked) of $3.32 before transactions costs and commissions, and $2.9 after costs..
He also has an opportunity factor of 0.05. The opportunity factor is calculated by estimating from historic logs of the system the amount of valid trading signals generated. The 0.05 opportunity factor in this example is based on 1 signal every 20 days, in which you get 0.05 by dividing 1 by 20...
Trader 1 also has an average volume per day in dollar amounts of $0.145, which can be calulated by dividing the net expectancy by the number of days required to generate 1 signal...Why is that?? Because simply this trader gets a signal every 20 days, and when your net expectancy is $2.9 per trade, so you will risk $1 every 20 days, and get a $2.9 every 20 days for that $1 risked....So per day, you are going to have on average a $0.145 in volume, just to compare all systems together on the same basis...
You can also calculate it the other way around by multiplying the net expectancy by the opportunity factor directly, it will yield the same result...
Trader 2: The Standard Long-Term Trend Follower with a 40 Percent Reliability and 2:1 Reward to Risk Ratio
Trader 2 has a gross expectancy of $0.776, net expectancy of $0.630, an opportunity factor of 0.5 (Meaning that he gets 1 signal every 2 days on average), and a dollar volume per day of $0.315...
Trader 3: High-Probability, Low R-Multiple Trading
Trader 3 has a gross expectancy of $0.5, net expectancy of $0.3, an opportunity factor of 5 (Meaning 5 signals every day on average), and a dollar volume per day of $1.5
Trader 4: is our trader in the quote, the Market Maker
Now, our big guy, the Market Maker has a gross expectancy of $0.018, a net expectancy of $0.012, an opportunity factor of 500, and a dollar volume per day of $6...
Just a little note before we go ahead, the expectancy is calculated by getting the following:
1- Average number of winning trades
2- Average number of losing trades
3- Average profit per trade in dollar amount (AP)
4- Average loss per trade in dollar amount (AL)
Simply, calculate the probability of winners (Name it PW) and the probability of losers (Name it PL)
Expectancy = (Prob winners*Average profit) - (Prob Losers*Average loss)
Expectancy = (PW*AP)-(PL*AL)
PS1: If your system has a negative expectancy, it's a loser over the long term, not matter what it can do in the short term...
PS2: Expectancies of the 4 traders were based on hypothetical risk/reward ratios and win/loss probabilities, but they fit the strategies followed by each trader, for example, for Trader 1, his winning probability is low because he is a long term trend follower, he makes all of his profits from very few selected trades that go with large trends, while at the same time, he employes a high risk/reward ratio because that's how can really make money with such a low winning probability..
Back to the main question which Dr. Tharp is trying to answer from the very beginning, which one of those 4 trading systems is really better than the others??
Quoting Dr. Tharp once again:
"Initially, the trader with the largest expectancy seems clearly to be the
the trader that one would expect to have the most success. Indeed, this traderís expectancy is far better than that of most long-term trend followers, so we would expect him to have a great track record. However, the opportunity factor clearly changes the element of expectancy.
Letís say that trader 1 generates one trade on the average every
20 days. Trader 2 gets a trading opportunity every other day, while
traders 3 and 4 generate 5 and 500 trades per day, respectively.
With this perspective in mind, trader 1 and trader 3 seem to generate about an equal volume of potential profit each day although trader 3 is less likely to have extensive drawdown periods. However, the total advantage clearly belongs to the market maker. The market maker, if he is smart, should seldom have a losing day.
Profits are a function of the expectancy times the opportunity? The result amounts to a dollar volume in expectancy generated each day That dollar volume is the most important factor in determining how much money you
will make on a daily basis."
Up to this point, it's really obvious that the Market Maker is the one who is really having the edge here among all the others..However, Dr. Tharp has not finished the book yet, that's why he said that the market maker (If he is smart) should seldom have a losing day...The remaining factor which is missing in here is the position sizing...If the Market Maker deploys good position sizing to his trades, he will be the one with the best trading system...
Remember, most floor traders on the futures exchanges are market makers and they are applying this strategy, yet, some of them make fortunes and some of them go broke, although they are all doing the same thing, getting out the spread out of hundreds of trades everyday...The position size is the critical factor which define those who make fortunes and differentiate them from those who go bankrupt...
Now, what has all this to do with the thread and the running discussion?? Obviously, it has nothing to do, many will think....But actually, it's strongly related, it's the core...
In the forex market, we are all apparently dealing with Market Makers who are always on the other side of every single trade we take..If I am long the Euro, then he must be short, and vice versa...There is actually a huge conflict of interest between me and the Market Maker, it's either his profit or mine...See why 90%+ of the traders lose money trading the market?? Because the strategy the market maker is using have a 90% win ratio, he wins on almost 90% of the trades...Unless you have your order routed by the market maker to a higher level, the interbank system for example, you will be in conflict with him, either you lose, or he lose, there is no other way as long as he is staying on the other side of the trade...
If the market moved in my favor, then he is losing, and if the market moves against me, then he is making money, and once he gets his spread by a small 3 or 4 pips move against me, he routes the order to the interbank system and we are not longer against each other, I am competing with someone else right now whom I don't know...For that exact reason, the market maker can't manipulate the data feed, he is just a part of the system, he is a trader like me, and he has boundries to abide to, he can't clear them or else he will be violating his own trading system, which generates good money for him...The Market Maker knows very well that if he violated his trading system, it can go against him violently, and because of his slim reward/risk ratio, he can't do this or else he could ruin the profits of a whole month in a few couple of hours...
So because of this hirerchy, the reatil forex can't dissapear, because if it did, market makers won't make money...Their opportunity will decrease if the total number of traders decreased, and thus their daily dollar volume will decrease...It will be a disaster for market makers to see the retail forex market dissapear, they will probably go bankrupt in some few weeks..
The big banks however, don't give a shit if the retail FX market grew or dissapeared, they actually make money from selling options on currencies (Which has almost the same win/loss ratio as the market maker, almost 90% winners vs 5% breakeven and 5% big losers), hedging against big clients who seek protection against currency rates fluctuations and don't mind taking a loss as long as their business is showing good profits larger than the losses of the hedge position...
So as long as the world trade is going on, growing and increasing both in importance and in value, the retail forex market is going to be there, just as the futures market will be there as well...It will be open for hedgers, corporations, hedge funds, money managers, banks, market makers, and finally small retail traders like us...
Please don't be frustrated...I don't want to make the picture gloom, but I think knowing the reason behind the 90% losers in the FX retail market is not going to make any difference to anyone, we all know the fact, question is how to move towards the 5% arena?? That's the real question
Hope you haven't got bored from the long post...Sorry fellows....lol...
One more thing which requires clarification....I have to admitt that I have been ignorant when I was disagreeing that scalping is eventually a bad trading methodology...I would like to completely change this opinion, scalping is eventually the same way the market maker is doing the business...A good scalping trading system similar to what the market maker is doing might be a good one, but it eventually will need a huge amount of effort and time to trade, and better it be automated...
The reason why many scalpers lose money over the long run, ruin their months of earnings in just 1 trade is because they are not having all the components of a good scalping system right...They might be having a problem with expectancy, win/loss ratio, reward/risk ratio, opportunity factor, position size, or even all of it...
I am not changing the my opinion to adopt that scalping is the way, sure there are better ways to make money in the market and live a normal life without starring at the screen all the time, but I am saying that a good scalping system can work, but for those who really can tolerate it...
very interesting reading, thank you
Thanx, Narafa. Sometimes the conspirsy talk makes me nuttier than I already am. The brokers are on our side, they want us to trade, they count on it, they make money when we do. That is capatilism at work. The system is in everybodys best intrest. I am just thankfull that we have someone on board who can explain it as well as you can. Thanx again!!!
However, I don't want to dissapoint you, the brokers are not on out side, on the other hand, they are always competing with us, if they make money, we lose money and if we make money, they lose money...
The issue is that somebody MUST lose for someone else to win, it's a zero sum game, All money won + All money lost = ZERO
The reality in my opinion behind all this system of the forex market is that everyone is a trader, someway or another, we trade, the market maker trades, the brokers trade, the big banks trade and so on...So since we are all traders, we for sure must have conflict of interest against each other...The market maker who is executing my order and who is holding my money is in conflict with me in every single trade until he gets his spread, then he doesn't care if I go to hell or I made a $1M profit for the trade, he is already out of the position with his profit, the spread. Once the market maker takes his profit, he already throws the order to someone else higher, a broker for example, which is still waiting for his profit to show up...The market maker slipped himself from the middle, took his profit and went away to get another trade...I am now against this broker, he wants his profit as a trader, and after he gets that, he will throw the order to someone else higher, and so on...
If you know how the retailing business works you will get this concept very easily, but it's reversed...There is a manufacturer, Wholesalers, Distributors, Retailers and finally customers who really buy the product to use it rather than make a profit from it...
If the manufacturer sells to the wholesaler 100,000 units for $100,000, the wholesaler then breaks down those 100k units and sells 10k units to 10 distributors, make his profits and get out of the cycle...The Distributor then sells the retailers in 1k units, makes his profit, and then goes away...Now, the retailer is left with the consumer, and he is supposed to make a profit also, so he sells in units of 1 or 5 or whatever smaller than the 1k he buys from the higher level (The Distributor), makes his profits and then gets out of the trade...
The forex works exactly the same but with reversed direction...The customer is the one who usually buys the largest quantities of the currency by hedging and other strategies...Those are the companies involved in the world trade, import and export issues...
The bank is on the other hand the retailer which those customers shop at, the big bank collects small portions of currencies in order to sell them to his big clients, usually from lower level brokers...Those brokers collect those money from thousands of smaller market makers, and those market makers collect those money from even hundreds of thousands from retail traders like us...
So basically, you initiate a 10k trade, the market maker have 100 trades like those, throws them off to the broker after he gets his profit, the broker is now left with $1M from one market maker, he collects 100 trades like those from a 100 market makers, he makes his profit and throws the $100 M to the bank, the bank is collecting 10 of those trades from 10 different brokers, amounting for $1 B, throws them to his client (Usually in the form of selling options against them while keeping the actual amount in his safe), the customer buys, and either he loses or wins, he doesn't care, he is not speculating like everyone on the cycle...
I thought I would just correct the miss-conception that the broker is on our side....If you recall the discussion between me and fanat, we were talking about the chess board and who are we playing against, knowing the ones on the other side is very important, and it's very important that we don't get caught that someone is on our side while he is actually not...
Oh, and one last thing to mention as well, the cycle mentioned in the last post starts to reverse when the ones at the higher level makes real money in profits...
Meaning that when the client who doesn't care to lose or win happens to win, everybody in the whole cycle takes a loss, distributed among everyone by volume, all this amount of money is collected and goes back to the client which sums a huge amount of money....In 95% of the cases, the client loses small amounts of money relative to him and when this happens, the profits (The loss of the client) are distributed down to everyone in the cycle which diminishes down as we go until they reach the minimum when they reach us (The retail forex traders) because we are the ones trading with the lowest volumes...
The other very important thing to be said in here is that everyone in the cycle makes money 90-95% of the time except the retail traders...Why is that??? Think about it...90-95% of the retail traders usually don't operate this thing as a business, they are not having good trading models and systems to use, that's why they ruin themselves, sooner or later...
On the other hand, think about everyone in the cycle, Market Makers, Brokers, Banks and even clients, they are all doing BUSINESS...They don't do it with emotions, they don't want to get rick quickly, they don't give a shit if they lost 5 times in a row (Though this is very very rare in their case since they employ trading models that seldom create such loss streaks)..They are doing BUSINESS, they are doing it automatically with some research, but they are doing it automatically...They know that what they are doing works, and that they will use it because it works...
When the profits come down from the clients, everyone is usually waiting for them, except the retail trader who usually got out of the market, either too early, so he misses his portions (Which will be distributed among others all the way long), or worse, he is on the other side now in another cycle, so he takes a loss instead of a profit...Lack of confidence, patience and hesitation, coupled with not having a defined trading model and mostly not knowing what's going on in the world of trading results in this 90-95% losers..In fact, this percentage can be reduced significantly and the number of winning traders increase if and only if a large number of traders think of it as a long term business...The profits come just from 1 source, and everyone gets his share, so there is money for every market participant, but only WHEN the profits are coming back...If you early, then you already gave up those profits away to someone else in the ladder..
i have a very good under-standing with my broker, i give him so many contracts to buy/sell then tell him to work them with a base price to myself. We dont rip each other off, we offer the scalpers the position with the broker i'm using.
I just had a better Discussion with my so called broker, he told me they are a market maker not a broker, but they did admit if i work with them rather than against them it would probably work better for me based on 100 contracts.
crucial posts narafa, i can see youve learned a lot from dr. tharp. thanks for the refresher course
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