Forex: Money Management Matters
Put two rookie traders in front of the screen, provide them with your best high-probability set-up, and for good measure, have each one take the opposite side of the trade. More than likely, both will wind up losing money. However, if you take two pros and have them trade in the opposite direction of each other, quite frequently both traders will wind up making money - despite the seeming contradiction of the premise. What's the difference? What is the most important factor separating the seasoned traders from the amateurs? The answer is money management.
Like dieting and working out, money management is something that most traders pay lip service to, but few practice in real life. The reason is simple: just like eating healthy and staying fit, money management can seem like a burdensome, unpleasant activity. It forces traders to constantly monitor their positions and to take necessary losses, and few people like to do that.
The Big One
Although most traders are familiar with the figures above, they are inevitably ignored. Trading books are littered with stories of traders losing one, two, even five years' worth of profits in a single trade gone terribly wrong. Typically, the runaway loss is a result of sloppy money management, with no hard stops and lots of average downs into the longs and average ups into the shorts. Above all, the runaway loss is due simply to a loss of discipline.
Most traders begin their trading career, whether consciously or subconsciously, visualizing "The Big One" - the one trade that will make them millions and allow them to retire young and live carefree for the rest of their lives. In forex, this fantasy is further reinforced by the folklore of the markets. Who can forget the time that George Soros "broke the Bank of England" by shorting the pound and walked away with a cool $1-billion profit in a single day? But the cold hard truth for most retail traders is that, instead of experiencing the "Big Win", most traders fall victim to just one "Big Loss" that can knock them out of the game forever.
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