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Day Trading Strategies Course

How Stop Losses Keep You In For The Big Win

This is the point where you admit you were wrong. No one can pick winning stocks 100% of the time. Accept this fact. You can only play the odds.

Let’s say we buy a stock at $20 with the plan that it will go up to $24. Now we have to decide what to do if the stock does not go up, but suddenly starts to fall. Let’s decide that if the stock moves below $19, we will accept that we were wrong about the direction of the stock, sell the position immediately, and take a small loss. By taking small losses, we preserve our trading capital, which allows us to trade again tomorrow.

Before we even get into a position, we have to measure our risk-reward ratio. In the above example, if we were correct about our stock pick, we would have made 4 points. If we were wrong in our stock pick, we would take a loss of 1 point. That is a risk-reward of 4:1. Let’s say we were only correct about our stock picks 50% of the time and we make four trades. Two were winners (2 x 4 points) equaling 8 points. Two trades were losers (2 x 1) totaling 2 points. We now have a gain of 6 points by only selecting winning stocks 50% of the time. Assuming we were the worst stock pickers in the world and were only correct 25% of the time, we would still have a gain of 1 point.

It is important to keep your risk-reward ratio 4:1. If you can only find a risk-reward ratio of 2:1, leave it alone, sit on your hands, and do nothing. If the market is behaving in a way that you can only find risk-reward ratios of 2:1, you probably have no idea as to which way the market is going to move. The market spends most of its time moving sideways. I have seen many traders lose most of their capital by making themselves trade when they should have stayed on the sidelines.

I still remember the first time I stared at the screen the entire trading day from 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. without making a single trade. I was thinking to myself, “I know the market is normally irrational, but today I have absolutely no idea what is going on.” I made some paper trades in my head, and I was glad I had left it that. All the trades I made in my head were losers. Even though I did not make any trades that day, I felt like a winner. It was a great feeling to know when to sit it out. I was right to stay on the sidelines. You have to have the discipline to stay on the sidelines when you do not feel comfortable. Getting into low risk-reward positions because you want to be in the game is wrong. It shows a lack of discipline and the punishment is losing capital.

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