"Meticulous Planning Will enable everything a man does to appear spontaneous."

Mark Caine

It's Your Money. Shouldn't It Be Your Plan?

Trading the Rule Based Breakout

Let’s talk about breakouts.  What makes a great one, what makes a poor one, and what exactly is a breakout?  Even if we learn what to do, if we don’t define some actual rules that we can apply every time, we’re just running around with our heads cut off.

Rules Based Breakouts are high probability and for good reason.  This training is A+ meaning what we’re giving away here for free most “pros” charge $495 for the privilege of this one video.  In other words, get ready to take notes, study hard, and learn how to apply some real world know how to your trading plan.

If you thought this was good, it's time to join the CTP Group. You ain't seen nothin yet.

Breaking the Trading Plan

The purpose a trading plan is not to shackle you down, force you to a rigid set of losing rules, or any other excuse traders make as to why they don’t have one.  The main purpose of a trading plan is to allow yourself all the flexibility needed in a time of fear by controlling it during a time of peace.  

Put another way, by designing your plan when the market is not open, or your positions aren’t effecting you, then you will not allow fear to take over when the market is open and those positions really are effecting you.  The most successful traders all have trading plans.  Whether completely written out or simply an internal process, success is not an accident for them.  Remember what Mark Caine said, “Meticulous Planning will enable everything a man does to appear spontaneous”.

Meticulous Planning Will Enable Everything A Man Does To Appear Spontaneous.

Let's Look at Today's Results & See This In Action

$294.25 made in under 12 minutes.  That’s more than the average american makes in 8 hours, this must have been a great day, right?

Absolutely not.  This is where traders confuse R’s with Profits.  

R=Risk Unit.  Whether a trader is trading $250 an R or $10 an R, either way, they should be risking 1 R when taking a trade.  The amount being risked is dependent on the skill of the trader, the amount of capital at work, etc.  

In R terms, if a trader risking $100 an R makes $200 then they made 2R’s on the day in profits.  If the next trader is risking $10 a trade but makes $40, then they made 4R’s on the day.  

In profit terms, the first trader obviously made more money, but in R terms, the second trader made more.  On a one trade basis, you could easily say the first trader is the better trader.  But over the long haul, this can change drastically.  This is important because lots of traders on social media will risk $1,000 and try to make $500 to $1,000 and look like a hero to the average joe.  

When in reality, that trader is doing little more than looking for a 1:1 payout and trying to use that result to promote themselves online, ultimatley for other intentions be that monetary or egotistical.  In either case, the traders that follow them on social media are focused on the dollar signs when the R Return Value is not worth it.  If they cannot copy that traders style to a T, then they will not have the finite success that the high dollar risk, low R return trader is getting.  This is exactly why so many traders get sucked into the cycle of following traders who win huge amounts of money but they can never copy the success.  

They are focused on the money and not on the true results.

Back to today’s results.  I typically risk $250 a trade intraday but with the high volatility lately pulled back slightly to risk around $220 per trade.  End Results in R’s Today: 1.3375 R’s or 1.34 for rounding purposes.

 My plan says 2:1 with a stop moved to break even at 1.5R’s.  Now let’s take a look at how this played out.

This is the CTP Calculator.  It tracks daily results for day trading and swing trading.  It also shows targets necessary depending on entries.  It’s available in our premium section if needed.  Today I traded 2 stocks, the SPY and IRBT.  SPY was a double test of the 1 minute based on the CTP Double Test which we actually teach and IRBT was a custom coded breakdown strategy.

If you’d like to get that double test teaching, you can sign up free here.  You can learn this exact same strategy we traded today by signing up to our CTP Group Email List.  

Let’s take a look at these setups here.

The first trade was a breakdown using a custom coded combination.  When they fire the signal together for the first time on the day, you want to pay attention.  You can’t see in hindsight what I saw on the break, which means I saw something that wasn’t really there.  IRBT was taken at $65.15 with a stop at $66.25.  The 2:1 Target was $62.95.  This trade was taken at 9:03 central time.  80 minutes later the current price is $61.00, this would be a 3.77R profit and I exited at break even.

My plan says once in, target is 2R with a stop moved to break even at 1.5R.  I can push past 2R if I lock in at least 1:1 when 2R is hit.  As in IRBT’s example, this would have been an excellent trailing option at the trade just hit 4:1.  Instead, it broke down and immediately popped back, and I exited break even. 

My plan said not too, and I can count the number of times one hand I’ve broken my plan this year, yet I did today. 

End Result: Break Even. 0R’s.

End Result of Plan: 2R+

The Second Trade was the SPY.  This was a double top retest CTP Style.  We teach this exact setup to new CTP Group members.  It takes 60 seconds or less if you’re interested.  I took SPY on the confirmation using my plan.  $267.69x$267.20.  2:1 Target was $266.22 with the option to trail for more.

When SPY got down to the previous pivot low and held, I was already out IRBT break even after watching it go 1.8:1 without me.  I had broken my plan once already which frustrated me.  I was now looking at a trade up 1.3 and thinking how pissed I’d be if this one takes a loss after IRBT fiasco.  I overrode my plan a second time and jumped.  This is the power of journaling, you must recreate as best you can your reason so you won’t make the mistake again. 

Within 4 minutes 2R was hit, and as of this writing, the price has reached $263.68 which would have been 7R+.

I’m not saying you get the bottom on these moves, I’m just showing max potential.

Actual Results: 1.34R

Potential Results: 2R+

The Plan Wins Out

Combined potential results are 4R+.  Combined actual results are 1.34R.  At $220 a trade that means my plan made $880 (less commissions) and I made $294.25 including commissions.  Remember at the start where I said I made more money in 12 minutes than most make in a day yet I screwed up, now do you see why?

This is why we have trading plans.  The absolute flawless simply never break their plans once they are built.  I consider myself a few steps under that but try extremely hard not to break my plan.  The few times I do break it however, the end result typically compounds itself in the wrong way.  This is why the trading plan is so important.

It’s built when the market isn’t moving.  It’s built when your mind is clear.  It’s built in a time of peace so that when the time of risk comes, when that potential time of fear comes, you have something stronger to help you overcome it.  

And yes, there will be times when you think the plan wasn’t built for this, I need to override it.  Considering the market is moving on average 200+ points this week, you could absolutely make this case.

Yet even with higher volatility than normal, the plan has still beat me by over 1.5x today.  Imagine what could happen in a week if this was a regular occurrence!

This is why when the plan is built, you have to follow it as best as you can.  And on those days you break your plan, you need to consider shutting down.  Something inside you is so off today.  Accept it, Improve it, and try again tomorrow.  The market is ready and waiting.  

Going forward, I will remember this day like many of the others when I violated my plan.  I understand nothing works every time, but being consistent with a proven setup gets me so much further than intuition based on tick fever.  My plan is designed to help me succeed, and help me overcome myself.  I’m still human and I will still make mistakes.  But if I remember mistakes are what successful people call experience, then I won’t be so hard on myself.  I will use this experience next time to try a little harder to stick to my plan.  One trade at a time. 

The plan is built when the mind is clear so when risk comes, it can be overcome.

Trading Double Bottoms & Tops

Double Tops & Bottoms are one of those things that if you don’t understand them, they can seem completely intimidating.  Yet the truth of the matter is that they are one of the most mechanical setups you can trade.  The beauty of the double top is that it is 100% mechanical.  Taking away all gray area and only allowing a setup when all conditions are met.  This results in significant profits when done correctly and the ability to sleep at night without any doubts you messed up when they do not work.

If you want to learn more about double tops & bottoms, we encourage you to get our Free Training on the CTP Double Tops & Bottoms.  Most companies would charge over $200 to learn this information, we simply ask you become part of our CTP Group.  To join, click here If not, watch our training video and then decide for yourself.  You’ll see what others charge $200 plus for, we simply include for all CTP Group Members.  It won’t be like this forever, but while it is, we suggest you strike.

The Key to Success in Any Strategy is Making It Your Own. That is the Biggest Edge You'll Ever Find.


Swing Trading 101


This is a complete video lesson on how to swing trade.  Whether you wish to trade pullbacks or breakouts, whether your a novice or a pro, this has something for you.  Be sure to pass this on to help someone else in your trading circle.  And if you haven’t joined the CTP Group, click the button at the bottom of this page to join now.

Indicators 101


If you decide you want to eat healthy, produce from a farmers market could be an excellent place to go.  However, just because there’s plenty of options, this does not mean you should eat them all.  Some may taste better than others, some may cause allergic reactions, some may have strange smells.  Even if the end goal of everyone at a farmers market is to buy healthier foods, there’s no one way to do so.  Everyone will buy what is best for their own purposes, whether that be taste, smell, allergies, or otherwise.

Trading indicators should be no different.  There is a camp that solely trades on price action and ignores everything else, but the vast majority employ indicators in one way or another to help them trade.  However, just like the farmers market example, there is no one way to use them.  The trader has to determine what works best for their own unique experience and desires.

When you look at indicators this way, your life will become so much less stressed.  Even if your goal is to lose weight, there’s no holy grail of fruit or vegetables that can guarantee immediate success.  Likewise, there is no one holy grail indicator that will change your entire trading career.  Indicators can be beneficial, or they can become the rabbit hole that you never stop falling into.  Stop thinking of indicators as magical, and start thinking about them like produce.  They are not the holy grail to weight loss or other results.  They are an important piece and everyone has certain types they like the best.  Trading indicators should be no different.

Now that we’ve established what they shouldn’t be, let’s talk about what they should be.

Before we get into the types of indicators, let’s establish a few rules.

Rule #1. Trading Indicators

This means that when you are using an indicator as a trigger, the price itself would have already started to make the move.  When you are looking for price to get over extended, it will have already done so before your indicator agrees.  

When using indicators, you have to accept lag time.  As they use price in their formulas, they simply cannot print until price does.  Even some of the “leading” indicators still use closed price points to print future points.  If you cannot accept getting in late because you waited for the signal to fire on an indicator, you may have to look and see if indicators are really for you.

Many traders think that certain indicators are leading and not lagging.  The truth is that they still require closed data to print, even if they are displaced forward or otherwise, they still require closed price action to print the formula and as a result I still consider them a lagging indicator.

If anyone truly created a leading indicator, they’d print money every single day.  The truth is leading indicator is just a sexy buzz word because if you could lead the market, you’d never lose.  And professional traders lose constantly, they know it’s part of the game.

Rule #2. Customizing Inputs Should Substantially

Every Indicator has the ability to customize the inputs.  For example a moving average takes the closing price of X number of candles and divides the result by that amount to create a line.  Many traders like to use a 20 moving average.

However, once the strategy is built, traders like to run computerized tests to determine chinks in the armor or areas to improve.  Once that happens, optimization becomes a problem.  If your system is failing at a 20 moving average but working great at an 18 moving average, traders start to over optimize the system based on perfect results.  The reality is customizing the inputs should NOT change the system itself more than 20% or it’s becoming over optimized and will not deliver those types of results in live trading.  

All indicators can be customized almost as much as the trader desires.  The customization should help the trader feel more confident, not change the results.  It’s like a trader eating an apple vs cutting it into sections.  Either the way the apple gets eaten, it’s just a personal preference.  Changing inputs should be viewed the same way for 98% of the traders out there.

Rule #3. Different Indicators Can Accomplish

This rule is imperative if a trader is using a checkmark system for entry.  Some traders like to use 5-7 things that allow entry when they get a majority.

The issue with this is you have to understand (which we’ll discuss in detail) that indicators can accomplish the same purpose.  And if that’s the case, then using multiple indicators on your chart will not add any edge.  You want your indicators to each add significant value to your chart.  If we go back to our produce example, if the goal was only to eat enough fruit to get 100% vitamin C, you could eat an orange and be done.  

You could also eat any combination of other fruits or vegetables to hit that goal, but if you eat them AND the orange, you may not get an added benefit if your main purpose was vitamin C.  You would have been better off having a different goal for the other fruits and vegetables.

As you learn about what the types of indicators and their purposes are, you’ll soon find out which indicators are worthwhile, and which are simply overlapping and unnecessary.  The key to rule #4 comes from thoroughly understanding rule #3.

Rule #4. More Indicators On Your Chart Are

Think of your chart like an expensive leather couch.  You’re proud of this couch, you want to use it constantly, it’s the most comfortable couch you’ve ever had.

Yet for whatever reason, you or your significant other start adding pillows to this couch.  Fancy throw pillows that help the couch work even better, look even better, smell even better.  Whatever the reason, you just keep adding these pillows until suddenly that amazing couch isn’t recognizable nor usable.  The pillows which were supposed to supplement the couch have taken over entirely.

Indicators on a chart should be no different.  When you build your perfect chart, with all the right colors and lines, you feel like you’re in the zone.  Yet some traders read a blog post, watch a video, read a book, or whatever else, and suddenly add an indicator.  Here and there, they really do help.  Yet before too long, most traders end up with a screen so covered in indicators it’s no longer recognizable or usable.  

Don’t let this happen to you.  Remember the end goal of a chart is to help you make a trade.  If you can’t thoroughly explain why every single indicator on your chart is there, start taking them off.  Back to our couch example, what happens when you take off all those pillows?  You get to use the couch again.  The same can be said of your charts.  

If you want to build a separate chart with tons of indicators for research purposes, fine, do so with gusto.  But your trading chart, the chart that is responsible for making decisions, requires better.  Explain why that indicator is there, or take it off.  What you’ll be left with is what you truly decided you need to trade.  And that is a decision that no one else can make for you.  

Trading Indicators Come in Different Categories

Trading indicators come in all varieties and fashions.  The end results, however, tend to accomplish only a handful of things.  Indicators are mathematical formulas that are based off of the High, Low, Open, Close, and Volume.  These combinations along with other mathematical parts have created thousands of combinations, each named after the trader that discovered them.

Yet for all the different combinations, they function for a very few set of purposes.

Trend, Momentum, Volume, & Volatility.  Many guru’s say you should have one from each category in your plan, some require that you have multiple from each.  If you want to chart the CTP Way, then remember it’s your money, it’s got to be your plan.  You get to decide how many and what goes on the chart, just make sure it follows the rules above.

Trend Indicators

Trend Indicators are those that help determine the trend.  Trend strength is very subjective to the timeframe you are on, but when you hear someone ask what’s the trend, and you want to answer them with an answer involving technical analysis, these are the indicators to use.  A few of the indicators that fall into this category are:

  1. Moving Averages
  2. MACD
  3. ADX
  4. Ichimoku Cloud

There are hundreds of them out there, but the majority of traders can find what they need simply using this list.  

We will discuss in detail these indicators on our advanced section indicator 202.  If you prefer to skip ahead, you may do so now, this link will be available at the end of this article as well.

Momentum Indicators

Momentum Indicators are those the help determine the momentum of the trend.  These can also be used as excellent pullback opportunities back into the existing trend.  The final use of these indicators is gauging when a trend could be coming to an end by means of divergence.  

A few of the indicators in this category are:

  1. RSI
  2. Stochastics
  3. CCI

One of the most important factors in using these indicators is remembering what Livermore said, “Markets Can Stay Irrational Longer than You Can Stay Solvent.”  This means, just because you’ve got an overbought signal does not mean the trend cannot keep going.  Look at the general markets since 2012.  

Volume Indicators

Volume is the most important thing after price.  If you had to have only one indicator on your chart, volume would be it.  Volume tells you when there’s a large move starting, when there’s no one left to continue, when to ignore a pullback, and when to pay attention.  Many traders that don’t believe in indicators still use plain volume because it’s that powerful.

A few of the indicators in this category are:

  1. Volume (typically includes a 50 day average of volume to show when it’s stronger than normal)
  2. Chaikin Money Flow
  3. On Balance Volume

Volume is one of those things that some traders simply like to ignore, but when used properly, it can greatly improve the results of some of your trades.  This indicator cannot be ignored.

Volatility Indicators

Volatility is extremely important in trading.  If you buy a stock at $10, and you want to sell it at $11, what’s the potential it will get there?  If you want to place a stop on that same stock, how far away should you place it?  Volatility answers these types of questions.

Examples of Volatility Indicators are:

  1. Average True Range
  2. Bollinger Bands
  3. Keltner Channels
  4. Price Channels

Volatility may sound confusing and some traders may simply want to avoid what they don’t understand.  However, once you see it in action, it may become something you simply can’t live without.

Putting It All Together

Now that you know what categories indicators come from and a few types from each, take a look at your chart.  Are you heavy on one category?  Do you have something from each?  Do you see a need to adjust?

Let’s use one quick hypothetical example before calling it a day here.

The picture shown is NVDA.  We have incorporated one or more indicators from each category.  The red solid line is a 50 simple moving average, the white lines are a 20 range price channel, the indicator with vertical lines that looks sort of like a cloud is called the Ichimoku Cloud, and the three indicators at the bottom from top down are volume, MACD, and Stochastics.

If we were looking for a pullback trend continuation setup, we’d want to see a combination of things confirming a high probability edge.

These indicators will all be discussed in detail in indicators 202, but for now, we are simply trying to show a finished product.  We will go back and dissect each part over future posts.

From our trend indicators, we’d want to see an uptrend.  This happens by price still being above the 50sma, the MACD still above zero, and price still above the cloud.  All options are checked yes.

From our momentum indicators, we see the stochastics has reached oversold by getting below 20.  When looking for pullbacks, stochastics needs to get as close to oversold in an uptrend as possible.  Check & Check.

From our Volume Indicators, we see price spiked near the end of the run-up roughly 2-3 weeks before giving our pullback entry.

On the pullback however, there was no volume strength.  A low volume pullback is an excellent sign that when price starts to turn, the trend will continue.  If the volume was strong on the pullback it could be a sign that traders are getting out.  Since the volume was weak however, the odds were high that there was simply no one left to buy in the short term, not that traders were exiting existing positions.

From our volatility indicators, we can see price got below it’s 20 day range.  A stop below this low by a % of the 20 day range could be an excellent risk reward setup.  

If the trend is to continue, a new 20 day low could become an excellent false breakdown point.  Traders that only used volatility here may be tempted to fight the overall uptrend.

Traders that used multiple categories however were able to see the stronger uptrend and use this short term new 20 day low as a reason to place a high probability buy setup.


And there you have it.  Four categories, four different approaches.  When you put them all together, they can create something powerful.

This is what a trading indicator or indicators should do.  When you dump so many on the chart you can’t read the chart, it’s time to change.  When you trade just the right amount for just the right reasons, you can build a consistent and powerful edge.

To learn more training like this, don’t forget to join the CTP Group.  It’s free to sign-up and we only send 1-2 emails a month with training like this delivered straight to your email.

Should This Be Part of Your Plan?

Now that you’ve learned something new, you’ve got to ask yourself if this should be part of your custom trade plan.  Is this new knowledge something that could help take your trading to the next level?  Or is this something that is nice to know but ultimately does not have a place in your CTP.
You have to decide for yourself.  Your Plan can only encompass so much, and every piece that’s in there has to have a purpose.  This does not mean that once it’s written it cannot be changed, but if it’s being changed, it should only be done so for a very specific purpose.  The plan is your key to the kingdom, only put into it what helps you get there.
If you do not yet have a custom trading plan or simply don’t know where to start, we can help.  Head over to our CTP Premium Section to see how we built a swing trading system with a plan from start to finish.  This is the end all systems for plan and trade development.  No matter what part of trading you’re lacking in, this is the answer.
Or if you’re not ready to spend anything on your future, head over to the CTP trading strategies section and see if you can start building something out of that.  We’re always here if you need us, but in the end, you’ve got to be willing to put in the work.
After all, it’s your money; why isn’t it your plan?


Determining The Trend

Traders get so caught up with the word “trend”.  I mean, the trend is your friend, it’s so catchy it must be true.  Yet trying to determine that trend can become such a difficult task you can no longer see the forest for the trees.

In other words, the trend is a very vague term.  What matters more than anything in determining trend is determining your timeframe.  Just because a 5 minute chart is screaming bearish doesn’t mean the daily chart isn’t screaming bullish and that short term chart is about to get run over.

What matters more than anything in determining trend is determining your timeframe.

We’re about to look at a chart with the ticker SQ.  Can you tell what it’s trend is?  It all depends on what your timeframe is.

The daily chart is on the left, 60 minute in the middle, and 5 minute chart on the right.  The solid moving average is a 50ema which is custom coded to turn green when it’s more bullish, red when it’s more bearish, and white when it’s neutral.

The dotted line is the 20sma with same coded parameters.

One of the best ways to determine a trend is looking at 2 different moving averages.  In this example, the 20sma and 50ema.  The 20 is faster than the 50 so when it is above it is a bullish signal, when it is below it is a bearish signal.

I like to use a slower acting faster moving average and a quicker slow moving average.  Hopefully that confused you but I can explain.  Basically, the simple moving average takes the last 20 closes, adds them up, and divides by 20.  The result is a smooth line called a simple moving average.  It reacts equally to all price action.

The exponential moving average however is effected more by more recent data.  As a result it can move faster than a simple moving average when a stock gets going.

By keeping the shorter term moving average equal and weighing the longer term moving average to allow it to move quicker, you have a faster result when looking for crossovers in my personal opinion.

There will be countless others who say I’m wrong here, but that’s the beauty of trading, everything matters, nothing matters but price, everything works, and everything fails.  Just do what works for you.

Back to our chart.  If the 20 is above the 50 it’s a bullish trend.  If the 20 is below the 50 it’s a bearish trend.  So what is the trend here?  It solely depends on your timeframe.  

The daily is still showing a strong uptrend.  The 60 minute recently turned bearish at the yellow arrow.

The 5 minute turned back bearish at the yellow arrow which happened only yesterday.  So the end result here is a bullish daily trend, a bearish 60 trend, and a bearish 5 minute trend.  What do you do with that info?

It depends on whether you are a day trader or a swing trader.  If you are a day trader, you have a bearish trend and are shorting either on breakdowns or on pullbacks.

If you are a swing trader you are sitting out as you can see the shorter timeframes are not giving you any clear reason to take a long trade yet.

If you are day trading, you are aware that the higher timeframe is still bullish and you are looking for smaller targets.

If you are swing trading, you are waiting for shorter term bullish crossovers to start looking for trend entries.

Yet in the end, this picture can help explain why there’s always two sides to a trade.  There can be multiple trends going on at the same time, it simply depends entirely on the timeframe the trader determines to use.

This is why some traders like to use a higher timeframe and a lower timeframe before taking a trade on their trading timeframe.  Going forward, you can see how using a higher timeframe and a lower timeframe before you take a trade could help to determine what other trends are in play.  

In the end, you simply have to trade what works for you.  Just remember, the trend can change at any time.  Don’t get so caught up in this that you can’t see the forest for the trees, simply be aware that trends are very subjective to personal opinions and timeframes.

Think of that next time someone else says the trend is up when you say its down, you both very well could be right.

If you’d like to keep learning more trading advice, sign up below to join the CTP Group and get weekly updates, trading help, and more.


Trading has end goals that are different for everyone.  Some look at it as a way to keep score, others as a way to prove ego, and others still as a means to an end.

Regardless of the goal, everyone has a goal to make profits.  The thing about a goal like that however, is because it’s so open ended, most people never get the big profits they really wanted in the first place.

It’s easy to say I bought FB at $20.  It’s a lot harder to say I’m still in FB from $20 when it’s now over $170.

How do you handle the swings that come with holding a trade for bigger profits?  Whether it’s taking a trade from 1:1 to 2:1 or taking a trade from a double to a triple, to make real profits, you have to be willing to give it back without willing to go underwater on a massive winner.

The key to making larger profits is you must learn how to only trade house money.

It’s easy to say I’m in at $20 and my stops at $25 so since the stock is currently at $30 I’m home free.

However, if tomorrow the stock comes out with news that sends your stock gapping 50% premarket (EFX anyone?) and you aren’t covered then that stop does you no good.

A stop market order only means that you will be taken out at the market price if your number is reached.  A stop market order does not guarantee you will be taken out where you want.


A stop market order does not guarantee you will be taken out where you want.

So back to our example.  If you are in a stock at $20 and it’s up to $30 you’re up around 33% at the minimum.  

If you’re stop is moved to $25 you’ve locked in a $5 gain and are up at least 20%; excellent job.

However, if the next day something happens that causes the stock to gap around and take a 50% bath, what will your stop end up doing?

Your stop market will simply trigger at market price once $25 or lower is reached.  That means if the market opens at $15, you’re out at $15.  

This doesn’t happen very often under normal circumstances, but if you’re in profits and holding a stock through earnings, FDA news, or just unlucky, you better believe it can happen.

Stop Markets are helpful, and they are used by us regularly especially starting out.  The potential for these types of black swan events are rare and if you truly understand trading it’s simply exchanging risk for potential reward.  Which is why a trader clicking a mouse for 30 minutes can make more than most who work 40 hours when it’s done right.  

That being said however, once the trade gets enough into profit to start using house money, there are alternatives that work even better than stop markets.  Enter Box Trades.

Once the trade gets enough profit to use house money; there are alternatives better than stop markets.

Box Trades using Options

A box trade requires 3 parts.

  1. Equity Shares
  2. Call Options
  3. Put Options

While it can be done from the start, it is recommended to not pursue until the trade is in enough profit to cover the cost.  Doing this beforehand will eat away at profits and is only recommended under extreme circumstances.

However, lets go back to our example above.  (Note: The video below shows a live example if you’d prefer video over reading).  In the above example, the stock was purchased for $20 and was currently at $30.

If the same goal of $25 stop was desired, instead of using a stop market which has risks, the trader could look to purchase $25 puts roughly 1-3 months out on a long term setup or 2-4 weeks out on a short term setup.

Whatever the cost of the put, the trader would sell calls on the other end to offset the balance.

Tip: Never sell naked calls/puts. Only sell 1 contract for every 100 shares you own and round down.


Let’s say the $34 calls cost the same as the $25 puts.  Noticing the calls are more expensive than the puts from the get go may be an excellent indicator where markets believe this stock to be heading.

In this example let’s assume the trader has 300 shares purchased at $20.

They want their stop to be at $25 to lock in profit now that the trade has reached $30.

By selling $34 calls and using the profits to buy $25 puts they have created a risk free box.

If the trade gets above $34 before expiration, the shares are taken away for a $14 profit or 70% Return.  

If, however, the trade has a black swan event where the stock gaps against, the stop market order would result in a net loss regardless of where the stock was the day before.

The puts however would profit anything under $25 theoretically locking in profits at a $25 level or $5 per trade.

The difference between a covered call and a box trade is a covered call is used for slow stocks looking to collect extra premium, the box trade is used for aggressive stocks where you are looking for insurance.

The downside to this is that if the stock gets past $34 you’re out the shares and no longer have a position.  If, however, you are doing this short term and the options expire worthless you can look to put it back on every few weeks or months and simply hold until taken out from the calls.

This is only one example of how to protect profits, but hopefully it can help shed some light on ways to protect profits other than simply adjusting a stop and hoping the news doesn’t hurt you.

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Why Shorting with your Head can take away your Balls

EFX or Equifax made national headlines when it disclosed it’s massive data breach.  Everybody was reading about the failure of this company on a massive scale.  This seemed like a goldmine in the making.  

EFX takes 5 days to fully digest the news and the shorts but it pays off in spades going from the mid $120s down to just under $90.  Not a bad payout for the bears over a 5 day stretch.

Everybody that missed the first run down was eager for round 2.  Price runs up, and they start lickin their chops.  They’ve got the fib levels in play, they know the headlines are all bad, they like the round numbers, and they start hitting it short.

Price might be making new 20 range highs on the 30 and 60 minute, but this trade is a disaster.  This company is the next Enron, their entire businss core has been shifted.  Traders make compelling statements to themselves and talk themselves into getting larger, doubling down, and doing everything they shouldn’t have done because this company has done something so bad it has no choice but to drop.

No Matter How Bad the News is; the Market can always price in what it wants to. Nothing ever HAS to happen.

These traders took logic, and used it to get into a trade that was turning to the upside.

Long term this trade definitely has more going against it than for it, but will the trader that went all-in at $100 because it was a 10% correction from the lows and that psychological number was huge, will that trader be around to take another shot at it?

By using their heads, traders out there got themselves burned so badly that they won’t have the balls to pull the trigger next time.  The worst thing a trader can do is be right but so early that they take themselves out of the game before it even starts.

When building a case for the bears, few companies seem as out in the open and flawed as EFX right now.  Remember what happened to CMG after they were found to make people sick?  Their stock lost over 50% over the course of a year.

Logically, EFX definitely has potential to follow suit.  But does that mean it will?  If there’s no one left to buy, a stock can roll over.  If there’s no one left to short, a stock can explode.

Start building yourself a case for entry.  Doing this properly can help you determine between what makes sense in your mind (logic) and what can produce profits in your account (edge).  Because if you don’t, you’re going to hurt yourself mentally until you lose the nerve to take the trade that should be taken.  

Building a case for entry in trading is the difference between logic and edge. Only one Succeeds.

If you were to build a case short on EFX, what timeframe would you be looking at? 

Let’s assume for this example you like the 30 minute as it’s a 1-5 day hold using this timeframe on average.

What would your answer be to these questions?

  1.  What are the moving averages telling me about this stock?
  2.  What is the 20 range high/low telling me about this stock?
  3. Where is the last area that price respected strongly?
  4. Where did the last breakout/breakdown come from?
  5. What is my primary reason for taking this trade?

Now look at EFX since it broke out to a new 20 range high on the 30 minute and decide what would your decision been?

Can you be opposite in the short term when the long term says something else?

Can you be patient enough to wait for the proper signal?

Do you have a signal at all that should get you in?

These are the questions you have to start asking yourself in trading.  Regardless of the stock, trading is a personal process.  There are always traders looking at the opposite side of your trade, whether retail or professional.

There are always trades you can do everything right on, have your edge present, and still come out losing.  So you better make sure that you are 100% convicted on the trades you DO take.  

Yes, EFX made sense to short it.  Yes, EFX went long in the short term and is easy to call out in hindsight.  But, now that you see a potential case for entry and have an idea on some questions to start asking, what do you see going forward?

This video may help show the way as well, but remember, every trade is a winner and a loser depending on who you are.  The trick is to keep your head in check so you don’t lose your balls, because if you don’t have the guts to pull the trigger when it counts because last time you got burned, you’re done.  Build the Edge, Follow the Edge, get Paid by the Edge.  It really can be this simple. 

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Counter Trend Trading Hack

Picking the top in a trading range is one of those setups that every trader has tried at some point in their career.  It always goes something like “If I can short it at 100 and cover at 80 I’m going to retire in a week and my risk is only a dollar so it fits the risk/reward that the pros are doing.  It’s a sure thing”

The thing about trading is it’s never a sure thing.  Everything can fail.  Even if your risk/reward is strong, if the edge is weak, it still may be the wrong setup to take.  Yes, the pros look for high rewards vs risk, but they also make sure there is an edge present.  You can bet a million dollars on 11 in roulette and make $30 million, but that doesn’t mean you should.

The thing about trading is it's never a sure thing.  Everything can Fail.

Traders see a setup that looks over extended and decide the payout is so strong they can be wrong half the time and still come out ahead, so they take the shot.

Then, the strength keeps going, taking them out along the way, and they see another opportunity just a little higher up, and they take it again.

Taken out a second time, they are now down 2R but see an excellent opportunity to try again and get back everything they’ve lost plus a little more.  Taking it here requires a 2:1 payout just to get back to even minus spreads and commissions, but the reward is still easily 10:1 so it’s worth the risk, they take shot #3 and lose.

By this point they are so fed up with the stock that they move on in disgust, refusing to even look at this symbol anymore.

Just when the trader ran out of money to fade, the stock starts to turn.  The trader, already staring again at the stock and breaking their own vow they had just made, now sits in total disgust as the trade goes 3R in their direction while they ran out of money to trade.

Their plan said 3 shots and done for the day, yet if they only would have taken that 4th shot they would have gotten everything back and then some.

Next time, they won’t follow their plan so much because it was the wrong call.  Next time, they will crush it.  Next time, eventually becomes the last time, if there is no trading edge.  They will continually blame other parts of their own plan until eventually they simply stop following any plan and blow up.  Edge plus Positive Reward to Risk equals success long term.  Everything else is just a trader trying to outsmart everyone else and hoping they aren’t the dumb money at the table.

Next time, eventually becomes the last time, if there is no trading edge.

So how can you find an edge in counter trend trading?

By using a 20 period range high/low break.  This indicator is completely free on most trading platforms.  All it does it take the highest high and lowest low of the last 20 bars (not counting the current bar) and plots it.

This forms a range that can be extremely helpful if used properly.  This is not a catch all by any means, but it is an excellent question to ask yourself before taking a trade.

It works as a fade, which was discussed above and will be discussed in the video that follows, it works as a trailing stop, and it also works as a continuation indicator.

The key to all potential CTP Hacks is this–it should be used correctly, as quickly and efficiently as possible, and is only used to help strengthen your own plan.

Let’s take a look at it as a continuation indicator.  


This was NVDA on 9-25-17.  Notice it is simply a 2 and 5 minute chart.  No daily, no ticks, no mid term strength.  Simply looking at the immediate trend with a 20 period range (white lines above and below price on the 2 minute).

When price runs back up to the 50ema on the 2 minute, the 20 range high is still dropping.  When the 2 minute stalls out just below the 20 range high, it shows you this is an excellent shorting opportunity.  

For those that wish to buy NVDA because it’s over extended to the downside and at a rising daily 20sma, it should also show you that not even the 2 minute chart agrees with you yet.

That does not happen until near 12pm when a new 20 range high is made for the first time all day.

This does not guarantee a winning long trade by any means of the imagination, but it does show you how to look at the trade differently.  If you want to buy it long, what timeframes agree with you?  If you don’t have any, how strong is the edge?


The video should help explain this even further.  In closing, just remember that everything works and everything fails.  The key to success is not trying to avoid all losing setups, but to look for patterns in your losses and look to adjust those patterns to a different way.

Hopefully this helped your trading style.  Feel free to comment below and let us know what style you like to trade, and if you have noticed a 20 range break as being helpful or not in any of your past wins or losses.  Don’t forget to pass this forward and share it with anyone looking for some help in trading, and until next time, remember to trade your own plan.

Ben from CTP

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