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Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders by Jack D. Schwager

March 24th, 2009

Mark Weinstein – High Percentage Trader

Weinstein is another trader that lost big and nearly wiped himself out several times before transforming himself into a high-percentage trader.  One of his first lessons during his formative years as a trader is not to blindly follow the trades of anyone else.  Weinstein maintains that self reliance and self direction is of the utmost importance when trading.

Weinstein claims that he trades nearly 100% successfully.  Schwager goes on to discuss how this is basically impossible, but says that his reserach suggests that Weinstein is not lying.  Weinstein employs his own custom-designed state-of-the-art computer systems to monitory technical indicators closely to measure changes in market momentum.  His system incorporates a variety of indicators including cycles, Fibonacci retracements, charts, sentiment indicators, moving averages, various oscillators, and Elliot Wave and Gann Analysis. Only when everthing lines up perfectly does he put on a trade.  Weinstein says that he has tremendous patience and has a strong fear of the markets.  He says that the greatest traders are the ones who are the most afraid of the markets.  If the market condidtions are not perfect, he does not trade.

Summing up his position uniquely, he says:

I don’t lose much on my trades, because I wait for the exact right moment.  Most people will not wait for the environment to top itself off.  They will walk into the forest when its still dark, while I wait until it gets light.  Although the cheetah is the fastest animal in the world and can catch any animal on the plains, it will wait until it is absolutely sure it can catch its prey.  It may hide in the bush for a week, waiting for just the right moment.  It will wait for the baby antelope, and not just any baby antelope, but preferably one that is also sick or lame.  Only then, when there is no chance it can lose its prey, does it attack.  That, to me, is the epitome of professional trading.

When I trade at home, I often watch the sparrows in my garden.  When I feed them bread, they take just a little piece at a time and fly away.  They keep on flying back and forth, taking small bits of bread.  They may have to make a hundred stabsat a piece of bread to get what a pigeon gets at one time, but that is why a pigeon is a pigeon.  You will never be able to shoot a sparrow, it is just too fast.  That is the way I trade.

For example, there are times during the day when I am sure that the S&P is going up, but I don’t try to pick the bottom, and I am out before it tops.  I just take the mid-range where the momentum is greatest.  That, to me, is trading like a sparrow eats.

Regarding technical analysis, Weinstein says that people tend to think that technical anallysis is unreliable because they tend to pick only one or two methods of technical analysis.  He agrees that no single technical approach will work all the time.  However, he does say that if you use all of them together, every so often, you can identify some very high probability trades.

One of his favorite generic signals for a trade is to look for a market that is losing momentum, and then going the other way.

Weinstein’s trading rules include:

  1. Always do your homework.
  2. Dont’ be arrogant.  When you get arrogant, you forsake risk control.  The best traders are the most humble.
  3. Understand your limitations.  Everyone has limitations – even the best traders.
  4. Be your own person.  Think against the herd, as they must lose in time.
  5. Don’t trade until an opportunity presents itself.  Knowing when to stay out of the markets is as important as knowing when to be in them.
  6. Your strategy has to be flexible enough to change when the environment changes.  The mistake most people make is they keep the same strategy all the time.  Winning strategies are always changing.
  7. Don’t get complacent once you have made profits.  The most difficult thing in the world is to hold on to profits.

Weinstein’s parting advice for beginning traders is to limit losses quickly.  He says most traders take gains too soon, and hold on to their losers to long.

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