“If you diversify, control your risk, and go with the trend, it just has to work.” -Larry Hite.

We often hear of trading with an edge, but how do we know for sure we have an edge? How do we know that the odds are in our favor, and that the more we trade, the more our accounts will grow? Are we really the casino and not the gambler, or are our short term winning the result of luck?

  1. One edge is in trading entry points in chart patterns that historically play out as a winning trade more times than a losing trade. Even taking entries that play out as winners only 60% to 70% of the time is much better odds than a random 50/50 entry point. The key is to do your homework and know the odds of each entry from specific chart patterns. Cups with Handles, candles sticks, and triangles are just some of these patterns. Thomas Bulkowski has done some amazing work around quantifying these patterns.
  2. Another edge is in the use of historical price action backtesting. Using software, historical price data, and technical indicators, a trader can see how a system would have done over an extended period of time across multiple markets. Moving averages and breakouts in different time-frames are used to measure the equity curve in a system.  This is the realm of the mechanical system trader. Price history gives the edge. Programming knowledge required.
  3. Another edge is to trade a method that has been proven historically as a winning one. The method should have rules on what to buy based on fundamental or technical criteria , when to buy, how much to risk per trade, when to exit at a loss or when to exit to lock in profits. One example of such a method is the CAN SLIM system by William O’Neil while the system is very robust it is more of an investing system than a trading system due to the time frames of the recommended buying and holding of stocks.
  4. Technical Analysis applied correctly can give a trader an edge. By trading what the chart is saying with support, resistance, trend lines and volume it will give a trader an edge over someone who enters randomly or based on opinions.
  5. Experienced discretionary traders can be their own edge through intuition which is developed through market experience and exposure to market behavior and what makes and loses money over many years of trading. Successful discretionary traders are like seasoned athletes who began to just know what to do in different circumstances based on past experience and learning through repetitive action. They are also like professional poker players that can instantly size up the odds of their hand and the possible actions of their competitors.
  6. An Emotional Edge can be gained by traders who make buy and sell signals based on systems and methods instead of fear and greed, they can step in and buy in a bear market when a reversal begins with a new trend upwards with out being clouded by fear and they can allow winners to run in a bull market not selling to soon out of fear of giving back profits. Traders not affected by their ego can sell quickly when they are wrong to avoid taking a bigger loss than is necessary. Much of trading is a mind game and do not underestimate the edge of having the discipline to follow your trading plan instead of your own fear and greed over taking you during market hours.
  7. Asymmetric Risk Edge is really THE edge that produces profits in the long term. The only way to make money in the long term is to have all your winners be bigger than all your losers. This can only happen by cutting losers short and letting winners run or having a very big win percentage. A good ground rule is to only take trades that can profit $3 for every $1 at risk. Only risk $1,000 if you believe you can make $3,000 on a specific trade. Of course a day trader with a 60% win rate may be able to get by with a $2 profit for a $1 risk if they stay disciplined in cutting losses and a trend following may have amazing returns with only a 30% win rate if there wins are 5 to 10 times their risk.