I completed my beginner’s training class today. It’s a 4-6 hour (depends on number of questions asked) web-based class. They take you through the basics of training, walk you through the two pieces of trading software (called “platforms”), and make sure you know how to use the software.
There are two basic things you do when trading: 1) Look at/analyze the charts and 2) Make trades in the trading platform. The charts can be as detailed as you want, from 3 years all the way down to 1 second (which is called a “tick” in trading terminology.) General trend lines tell you where the market is probably heading, and more specific bars or “candles” tell you what the market is doing right now. (I will post some charts in the future, but here is a general idea of what they look like.) These charts update in real-time over the Internet, so it’s pretty exciting to watch the tick chart and have it constantly showing what the market is doing at any given moment.
You decide what you think the market is going to do based on previous data as well as analysis of that data (and the training course walks you through several “telltale signs” of where the market might be going based on reading the charts.) Once you think you know where the market is going, you enter a trade (buy or sell) and set some limits (the amount where you want to get out of the market, having made your profit) and stop losses (if you’re wrong, and the market goes the opposite direction, this will automatically pull you out of the trade so you don’t lose everything.) You trade based on “pips”, which are 1/100 of 1 cent. (That’s right–10,000 pips in a dollar!) The goal, which the training company reinforces, is to make 10 pips per day consistently. If you do that, depending on how much money you have in your account, you will double your money every 30-45 days.
While the training class was going on, I was watching the 1-minute EUR/USD (euro/US dollar) charts. During the middle of the afternoon, it wasn’t doing much. I entered a trade just to test the system and watched it bounce around for a little while. I entered a sell, which means I was expecting the market to go down. Now here is the key — when you enter a trade, you’re automatically down 3 pips. This is called the “spread” and it’s how brokers make their money. So to gain 10 pips in a day, you actually have to gain 13. My first trade wasn’t going anywhere, and I spotted a trend reversal that meant the market was going to go up, so I got out of that trade. I got out at +2, which actually means I made 5, but only 2 counted due to the spread.
I watched the market on and off for the rest of the day, and at one point I noticed a 20-pip jump in 1 minute! Wow, that was huge! Our instructor noticed too. He had some open trades, and he immediately closed them for a nice gain. The market knew it had jumped a little too quickly, and in the next 3 minutes it was back down about 25 pips. I spotted the trend (it was headed back up since the general trend lines had just converged, and the 3 down minutes were actually not where the market was heading as a whole), and quickly jumped in with a buy order. I watched the trend lines take back off, and sure enough, in 9 minutes, I’d gained 10 pips, which was my limit. “Ding!” said my trading software, and automatically closed my trade. Beautiful! A nice 12-pip profit in my first day.
Now, that will not happen every day, and indeed with the demo account I fully intend to play around and make aggressive trades (who cares… it’s not real money anyway.) Before getting into real trading, you are supposed to make 30+ consecutive “good” trades (that is, you gained pips.) For the first 2-3 weeks, I figure I’ll make trades based on “gut feeling” and trend analysis and see how it goes. During that time, I will begin to develop my own system, and within 3-6 months I’ll begin trading with real money. At least, that is the plan. I will continue to update here!