Major Futures Market Player: These are the 5 Traits of a Successful Trader

Posted by TopstepTrader on October 23, 2017

This week, in our series of insights from Jack Schwager's Market Wizards, we look at Gary Bielfeldt, a trader that built a fortune and became one of the largest players in the U.S. Treasury futures market. (Read our last post about Tony Saliba's streak of 70 consecutive months with more than $100,000 in gains)

Gary Bielfeldt was one of the largest players in futures markets, honing a specific niche in U.S. Treasury Bonds. But his trading career started the same way many normal futures traders do: with a $1,000 investment in a brokerage account. At the core to Bielfeldt's success is the fact that he "does not believe in diversification," according to Jack Schwager's Market Wizards.

That is becoming a common theme as many of TopstepTrader's funded traders have found success by trading in one or two products. But, Bielfeldt's best advice came on the subject of the traits of a successful trader. 

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

Blair Hull: The Man Who Stopped the Crash of 1987

Posted by TopstepTrader on October 19, 2017

On October 19, 1987, the equity market experienced its largest one-day decline ever. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22%, setting off a chain of events that took global equity markets lower. 

This isn't the story of the Crash of 1987. This is the story of Blair Hull - the man who may have single-handedly steadied the market and in the process made 50% return on capital in a month.

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

Are Great Traders Born or Made? $150 Million in Trading Profits Gives Us the Answer

Posted by TopstepTrader on October 18, 2017

Is great trading a learned skill or an innate ability?

If this sounds like a question that could be at the heart of a movie, that's because it was. In Trading Places, two brothers that ran a commodities trading firm made a $1 bet on whether they could simultaneously turn a scam artist and criminal into a successful trader and a successful trader into a criminal. (If you haven't watched it, you should!)

But the question of whether great traders are born or made was also the subject of a real-life experiment by Richard Dennis, a Chicago trading legend, and his partner, William Eckhardt. 

Dennis - who had made hundreds of millions trading - believed that great trading was a result of a disciplined approach; a trader just needed to be taught rules and given risk management parameters. Eckhardt believed that traders like Dennis had an innate ability and underlying talent that allowed them to be successful. 

In the end, Dennis was proven right - and he added $150 million to his firm's bankroll in the process. Here's how. 

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

How This Trader Put Together a 70 Month Streak of $100K+ Gains

Posted by TopstepTrader on October 16, 2017

This week, in our series of insights from Jack Schwager's Market Wizards, we look at Tony Saliba, a trader who put together 70 consecutive months where he made more than $100,000 each month. (Read our last post about the trader who invented card counting.)

Tony Saliba is not a household name. In fact, even if you read Jack Schwager's Market Wizards, you probably don't remember him by name. But you can't argue with performance - and Saliba put together a streak of 70 consecutive months where he made more than $100,000 each month.

But before he did that, he nearly went bust. Then, a switch flipped. 

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

How George Soros Made $1 Billion Shorting the British Pound

Posted by TopstepTrader on October 10, 2017

In 1992, George Soros made one of the most legendary trades of all time: a substantial bet that the British Pound would plummet in value. In hindsight, the trade looks like a no brainer (similar to how shorting the 2008 housing market looks today). How did everyone not see that? It was inevitable.

But Soros went against one of the most pervasive trading axioms of our time. You may have heard "Don't Fight the Fed." The expression refers to the fact that when the Federal Reserve is in the market, you shouldn't bet against it. The Fed moves the market. Trading the Pound, Soros' bet wasn't fighting the Fed, but it was fighting the Bank of England - a similar market force. 

So how'd he do it? How did he "break the Bank of England?" And, critically, how did he make $1 billion in a month and catapult himself into trading lore and enable himself to build one of the greatest trading fortunes in history?

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

The Professor Who Beat Blackjack: This is How Much Money You Can Lose on a Single Trade

Posted by TopstepTrader on October 09, 2017

This week, in our series of insights from Jack Schwager's Market Wizards, we look at Ed Thorp’s incredible story that took him from the blackjack tables to legendary trader. (Read our last piece on a trader that turned $30K into $80 million here.)

Ed Thorp is a professor, PhD mathematician and the man who figured out how to make millions counting cards in blackjack. (He even wrote the book on it in 1962 - Beat the Dealer.)

During his trading career, he built an $800 million fortune and figured out how to price options years before Nobel Prize winners Robert Merton and Myron Scholes. This statistical edge helped him put together an incredible winning streak; over 19 years, he made money in 227 out of 230 months.

So, he has some credibility in dealing with risk. Here’s what he says is the best way to figure out how much you can afford to lose on any given trade.

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

Building a $30K Account to $80 Million: Story of the Incredible Futures Trader Michael Marcus

Posted by TopstepTrader on October 02, 2017

At TopstepTrader, our smallest account size is $30K - with sizes that range all the way up to $150K. To many traders, $30K seems like the price of an ante - the minimum amount that you need to make any futures trades. But if you were disciplined and really talented - and certainly lucky at times - what could a $30K account turn into?

That's not an intellectual question. In the mid-1970s through the 1980s, Michael Marcus - a proprietary trader with Commodities Corporation - turned a $30,000 account into an account of more than $80 million... in 10 years! And that's after both he and the prop firm took withdrawals of about 20% of gains each year.

Here is his advice.

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

From $1.4 Billion to Bankrupt in 5 Years - Lessons of a Speculator

Posted by TopstepTrader on September 25, 2017

Coming out of the crash of 1929, one trader stood above the rest. Jesse Livermore was one of the few who foresaw the crash and leveraged that market awareness into gains of $100 million - or $1.39 billion in today's dollars. Those gains turned him into one of the top 10 richest men in the world. 

Five years later, he filed for bankruptcy after squandering the fortune of a lifetime trading. 

How did it happen?

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards, Jesse Livermore

How to Turn from a Losing Trader to a Winning Trader: Champion Trader Marty Schwartz

Posted by TopstepTrader on September 18, 2017

This week, in our series that of insights from Jack Schwager's original Market Wizards, we look at how Marty Schwartz turned from a losing trader into a winning trader. (Read our other pieces here.)

Marty Schwartz is a champion trader having won the U.S. Investing Championship in 1984. But for a long time, Schwartz was a struggling trader. He said that in 1976, a decade into his trading, he was "still almost broke because I consistently lost money in the market." 

Then, something clicked. 

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

Legendary Futures Trader: Win or Lose - Everyone Gets What They Want Out of Markets

Posted by TopstepTrader on September 12, 2017

This week, in our series that of insights from Jack Schwager's original Market Wizards, we look at Ed Seykota's belief that win or lose, everyone gets what they want out of markets. (Read our first piece about Paul Tudor Jones' 7 trading rules here.)

Ed Seykota is one of the most under-the-radar, but legendary futures traders of all time. In the 1970s, he pioneered computerized trading systems and became one of the most prophetic systems traders in the market. How good was he? $1 invested in his trading firm in 1972 was up 250,000 percent just 16 years later. 

In the book, Seykota said, "Win or lose, everybody gets what they want out of the market. Some people seem to like to lose, so they win by losing money."

This is certainly counter-intuitive thinking. Why would anyone think that someone who loses money in the market is getting what they want? Let's dig into it.

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards

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