Saturday, March 31, 2007

Base and Break Pattern

We received several e-mails asking us about the Base and Break Pattern that we mentioned in the March Review. We've mentioned this pattern numerous times in our blog (and in our website) and it is an integral part of our trading. In fact, all members automatically receive a comprehensive summary with 15 charts illustrating how this pattern works -- we don't want anyone trading our selections until they have been introduced to our terminology and our system.

The basic point of the pattern is this: most traders trade either off the daily chart, 2-10 day chart, or from intraday patterns. What we realized some years ago was that we could increase our win rate by combining the daily and the intraday chart: this means that we trade the daily numbers, but only if the intraday also sets-up in a recognizable pattern. The base and break pattern is simply a type of consolidation-break pattern (with a number of key nuances in regards to for example how a stock approaches the top of the base before break-out) that we spotted some years ago and which we have been working on especially in the last few years .

We realized that it has a very high win rate when combined with a daily pivot and volume and have been attempting to perfect it ever since. A good number of traders use some form of consolidation break pattern for trading, and some traders use similar patterns simply on an intraday level with no regard to the daily chart -- we don't really recommend this but once in a while, especially in gap-up situations, the set-up and volume are so overwhelming, that it's worth a try -- however, for us, these are rare cases (probably once a month).

As always, there are literally thousands of ways to make money in the market and we have respect for all of them. As a new trader what you have to do is to find a system with which you have found success and which seems to fit your personality and then start the process of making the system yours. This is exactly what we did with break-out trading -- a system that has been around as long as the market has-- we started working with it, adapting it, and slowly changing it until we molded it into something that we felt was ours.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Theory versus Execution

One of our members, N.S., wrote to us today; he's a young guy we like very much. He's relatively new to trading, but he has an incredible dedication to learning and evolving, and he's smart, picking up things very fast. We have a lot of faith in him and believe that in a couple years he will make a very good professional trader.

He wrote to us today about a trade he took. He was very upset because he didn't follow the rules he knew so well and froze when the stock hit his mental stop and kept diving and diving. Finally, he couldn't stand it anymore and sold near the low of the day, just before the stock bounced again. How many of us have done that early in our career? We'd venture to say all of us.

His entry was excellent -- it was off a stock with a good daily chart, from a solid pattern, and the stock was printing decent volume at the time. However, and this has been happening often in this market, the volume on the break of the intraday consolidation did not come through, as the buyers were just not interested. His original stop was around a dime, and the stock went up a dime before it reversed -- at that time his stop should have been moved up (and he knows that) for a loss of probably a nickel -- very small to say the least. His exit though -- now that's the problem. Have you ever noticed that often the times that you blow your stop are on trades that immediately reverse? It seems to be much easier to obey a stop on a stock has been above the number for a few hours or even 30 minutes, but when a stock reverses on one immediately-- that's the most dangerous time and new traders can often find themselves just watching the stock go through the stop and not pushing the sell button. There's something about losing money instantly that is especially irritating, like you didn't even get your money's worth out of the trade, not even any entertainment value! Awareness is everything and if you are aware that your weakness is not obeying your stops on trades that immediately reverse, you can tell yourself that before every trade -- OK, sometimes I freeze on immediate reversals, I know this, and I'm going to make sure it doesn't happen. This, in our opinion, is the best solution for this problem. Awareness of the problem, and recognition of this before entry of every trade (especially in markets like this which are not particularly favorable to momentum trading).

This kid, N.S., knows the theory very well -- and he has soaked up everything we have taught him. But the execution takes a long time to master -- the reason we have faith in him is that he learns from every mistake. We told him today that once you enter a position, then stop thinking. You know where the potential profit exit and the stop are before you enter, you know what to look for, and you know what to do. From here on, you're a machine. It's not easy, but we are firm believers that anyone who is willing to learn, and has true discipline and dedication, can become a good, consistent, professional trader.