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

March 24th, 2009

Brian Gelber – Broker Turned Trader

One of Gelber’s first lessons that he discusses is not to pay attention to what the big instituational portfolio managers are doing.  They have a much longer term investing horizon and far different objectives than a trader.  He says it is much more important to listen to the market and follow the tape than to listen to what portfolio managers or analysts are saying.

One thing Gelber does is he likes to understand where the consensus is so that when the market moves the other direction on them, he can fade their trades.  For example, if the whole market is short, they’re all going to have to cover if the market starts to rally unexpectedly. Gelber also says its important not to overtrade and not ‘press’ too hard.

Gelber sums things up with the following advice – (1) never add to a loser, (2) don’t overtrade, (3) don’t ask other traders for tips, and (4) close out your positions, wipe the slate clean, and start out fresh when you encounter a losing streak.

Tom Baldwin – The Fearless Pit Trader

Baldwin on what separates the great traders from the losers: “It is a lot of hard work.  Its perseverance.  You have to love to trade.  Finally, you have to have a total disregard for money.  You can’t trade for money.”  Losers don’t work hard enough.  They think they have a 50/50 chance when they enter a trade and they take a leap of faith.  They don’t think there is anything more to it than that.  They don’t concentrate.  They don’t watch the factors that affect the market.  They don’t watch things like gold, oil, rates, other indexes, volume, technical indicators, etc.

Baldwin thinks that the most common pitfall of the average trader is that they trade too much.  They don’t pick their spots selectively enough.  When they see the market moving, they want to jump in and be in on the action.  So they end up forcing the trade rather than waiting patiently.  Patience is very important in trading.  A good trader does not have to trade every day.

On when the market moves against you massively, he says that sometimes its better to just sweat it out and wait for the market to come back to you.  Ususally those big moves are fear or euphoria driven and will come back down to earth ina few hours or a few days.

Things that he looks for in a chart are the high and low for the week, the halfway back point, and consolidation areas.

A final piece of advice from Baldwin is to never let your ego get in the way of trading.  Nobody, no matter how good or how big is bigger than the market.  Be especially wary of this after you’ve had a good run.  Don’t get cocky or careless or the market will take it all away from you in the blink of an eye.

Tony Saliba – “One-Lot” Triumphs

Saliba says that the biggest problem with loser traders is that they don’t fear the market enough.  And that after they start winning, they lose their discipline and hard work ethic.

Saliba says one of his particular strategies is to scale and and scale out of positions to spread out risk.  He says to always respect the market and not to take anything for granted.  He also says to always do your homework – always be doing ‘what-if’ analyses – anticipate and plan, rather than react.  Saliba says that hard work and preparation often go unnoticed by people who think traders are just magicians that know how to trade.

It is important to keep in mind that Saliba, like so many other great traders before him, lost so much money at the outset that he was brought to a near suicidal state of mind.  However, his self confidence and persistence enabled him to get back in the game and succeed.


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