Perhaps the thing I've struggled with most as a trader, is patience. It's something I've talked about numerous times on this blog and is still something I seem to have a weekly battle against. But the tide is turning and one of the main reasons for that is Twitter. It has really helped to put the amount of trading I do into perspective. When you are trading, it is so easy to slip into your own little world and lose perspective. As a solitary activity, you can become completely lost in your own thoughts, to the extent that you no longer recognise just how many trades you are getting involved with and how many hours you spend on the ladders.
Over the past few months, I've started to realise that trading is all about quality, not quantity. Rather than getting involved in as many games as I can and aiming for several all-green screens, I have now changed my philosophy. My aim now is simply to bide my time, wait patiently and attack only at optimum moments. I know that I only need to catch one medium sized move a day (30-70 ticks) and I'm in a strong position for the week. This means totally disregarding the vast majority of matches, including some that I've set aside as potentially strong matches to trade. This is a skill in itself because there are so many temptations. The Tuesday before Wimbledon for example, there were 29 in-play singles matches, spread over 4 lower level ATP & WTA tournaments - a bog-standard mid-week day. But still a lot of matches and a lot of temptations. Over the course of a standard week, that escalates into well over a hundred potential opportunities - and it's far more than that with football. It takes a hell of a lot of restraint for the average trader or punter to pick out a small handful of matches alone.
Since I joined Twitter, I've really noticed how some people seem to be involved in so much. I'm not being critical because I used to be very similar. As a football trader, I would be involved in every match that I could. If there was a 9am Indian I-League match on, I would play it. If Saturday morning started with a 7am J-League match, I wouldn't be having a weekend lie-in. And if I had to stay up late trading Copa Libertadores and MLS, then I'd be there till sunrise. As a tennis trader, the temptations are less because we don't have round-the-clock matches available and I am thankful for that. There are still parts of the year where it's possible to trade for close to 24 hours in-play, but not that often and I've learnt that it just isn't worth it.
But there are traders out there who won't stop at one sport; cricket, golf, football, tennis, NFL, NBA, F1 and even more obscure stuff can and is traded regularly by some. I'm quite shocked when I see on Twitter, blogs and forums, the quantity of trades that some get through. It can't be healthy and I know from personal experience that being sat at a PC screen for so long, stressing out, is only going to be detrimental to your trading. Obviously, much of this over-trading will be down to chasing losses but I think even a successful trader can be dragged into getting involved with matches that they should just leave. I think it's mostly down to human nature, in that we all have this desire to be right in our opinion. The problem with trading is that if we are right and we haven't gotten involved in the match, we are naturally pissed off. The more this happens, the more we want to take on opportunities that might be borderline, so it doesn't happen again.
Taking a loss is something which I have no problem with these days but sometimes, I still get riled when I opt out of a trade after some deliberation, only to see that it would've given me a nice green. I've had to learn to really control my frustration and to accept that I'm going to miss out on a few wins. I may even go through an entire day without placing a trade, which is something I would've found inconceivable even at the start of this year. That's a huge mental adjustment to make but is something that is becoming ingrained now.
The thing that helped me adjust to that the most, was realising that the more games you trade, the more likely it is that you will hit a long and nasty spell of bad variance. I've hit runs of 15-20 losses on the spin on several occasions but they would span over just 2 or 3 days. That isn't happening anymore because I'm far more selective. It will take me an entire week to trade that many games now and because my selections are much tighter, the win-loss ratio is generally better and I don't have such long losing runs. I'm not saying that you can't profit by getting involved in dozens of trades or several sports a day but I'd be very surprised if any long term successful professional sports traders, played more than a handful of games a week (though perhaps scalping horse races is different). I'd be even more surprised if they didn't specialise in just one or two sports.