Trading: Predictions vs. Expectations



This guest post is from: Christopher Ebert @OptionScientist

There are two VERY DIFFERENT terms to consider when it comes to trading: 1) Prediction and 2) expectation (or confidence) surrounding the prediction.

Placing a trade involves making a prediction. It is not possible to place a trade without making a prediction, and that is true even for trades that might or might not execute, such as those placed using a stop order or limit order, for example.

Every trader who places a trade does so because the trader believes there is some chance, greater than 0%, that the trade will be beneficial, perhaps based on historical probability (back testing) perhaps based on intuition (years of trading experience) perhaps based on hopes and prayers or possibly based on nothing more than a need to gamble. Whatever the basis, there must be SOME chance to benefit or else the trader would not entertain it. The trader predicts he or she will benefit, or else the trader does not enter a trade order.

No matter what the prediction may be, so long as the EXPECTATIONS for the prediction are based in reality, there is nothing inherently wrong with making a prediction. As long as a trader accepts a 30% win rate, for example, and makes allowances accordingly, there is nothing wrong with taking such a trade. The same is true for trades with 50/50 odds, as long as the trader properly predicts, expects, and is prepared for 50% failures; which is why it is possible to flip a coin and still be successful.

Many successful traders may say they never predict, when what they may really mean is that they never EXPECT their prediction to come true. Thus they may say things like “I only react” when more accurately they are reacting… to a failed prediction. For, it is virtually impossible to trade without predicting. So, I say to all you new traders out there “Don’t be afraid to predict. Just know how likely it is that you’ll be wrong, and know what to do when your prediction fails!” – Christopher Ebert