The Trader’s Fallacy
The Trader’s Fallacy is one of the most familiar yet treacherous ways a Forex traders can go wrong. This is a huge pitfall when using any manual Forex trading system. Commonly called the “gambler’s fallacy” or “Monte Carlo fallacy” from gaming theory and also called the “maturity of chances fallacy”.
The Trader’s Fallacy is a powerful temptation that takes many different forms for the Forex trader. Any experienced gambler or Forex trader will recognize this feeling. It is that absolute conviction that because the roulette table has just had 5 red wins in a row that the next spin is more likely to come up black. The way trader’s fallacy really sucks in a trader or gambler is when the trader starts believing that because the “table is ripe” for a black, the trader then also raises his bet to take advantage of the “increased odds” of success. This is a leap into the black hole of “negative expectancy” and a step down the road to “Trader’s Ruin”.
“Expectancy” is a technical statistics term for a relatively simple concept. For Forex traders it is basically whether or not any given trade or series of trades is likely to make a profit. Positive expectancy defined in its most simple form for Forex traders, is that on the average, over time and many trades, for any give Forex trading system there is a probability that you will make more money than you will lose.
“Traders Ruin” is the statistical certainty in gambling or the Forex market that the player with the larger bankroll is more likely to end up with ALL the money! Since the Forex market has a functionally infinite bankroll the mathematical certainty is that over time the Trader will inevitably lose all his money to the market, EVEN IF THE ODDS ARE IN THE TRADERS FAVOR! Luckily there are steps the Forex trader can take to prevent this! You can read my other articles on Positive Expectancy and Trader’s Ruin to get more information on these concepts.
Back To The Trader’s Fallacy
If some random or chaotic process, like a roll of dice, the flip of a coin, or the Forex market appears to depart from normal random behavior over a series of normal cycles — for example if a coin flip comes up 7 heads in a row – the gambler’s fallacy is that irresistible feeling that the next flip has a higher chance of coming up tails. In a truly random process, like a coin flip, the odds are always the same. In the case of the coin flip, even after 7 heads in a row, the chances that the next flip will come up heads again are still 50%. The gambler might win the next toss or he might lose, but the odds are still only 50-50.
What often happens is the gambler will compound his error by raising his bet in the expectation that there is a better chance that the next flip will be tails. HE IS WRONG. If a gambler bets consistently like this over time, the statistical probability that he will lose all his money is near certain.The only thing that can save this turkey is an even less probable run of incredible luck.
The Forex market is not really random, but it is chaotic and there are so many variables in the market that true prediction is beyond current technology. What traders can do is stick to the probabilities of known situations. This is where technical analysis of charts and patterns in the market come into play along with studies of other factors that affect the market. Many traders spend thousands of hours and thousands of dollars studying market patterns and charts trying to predict market movements.
Most traders know of the various patterns that are used to help predict Forex market moves. These chart patterns or formations come with often colorful descriptive names like “head and shoulders,” “flag,” “gap,” and other patterns associated with candlestick charts like “engulfing,” or “hanging man” formations. Keeping track of these patterns over long periods of time may result in being able to predict a “probable” direction and sometimes even a value that the market will move. A Forex trading system can be devised to take advantage of this situation.
The trick is to use these patterns with strict mathematical discipline, something few traders can do on their own.
A greatly simplified example; after watching the market and it’s chart patterns for a long period of time, a trader might figure out that a “bull flag” pattern will end with an upward move in the market 7 out of 10 times (these are “made up numbers” just for this example). So the trader knows that over many trades, he can expect a trade to be profitable 70% of the time if he goes long on a bull flag. This is his Forex trading signal. If he then calculates his expectancy, he can establish an account size, a trade size, and stop loss value that will ensure positive expectancy for this trade.If the trader starts trading this system and follows the rules, over time he will make a profit.
Winning 70% of the time does not mean the trader will win 7 out of every 10 trades. It may happen that the trader gets 10 or more consecutive losses. This where the Forex trader can really get into trouble — when the system seems to stop working. It doesn’t take too many losses to induce frustration or even a little desperation in the average small trader; after all, we are only human and taking losses hurts! Especially if we follow our rules and get stopped out of trades that later would have been profitable.
If the Forex trading signal shows again after a series of losses, a trader can react one of several ways. Bad ways to react: The trader can think that the win is “due” because of the repeated failure and make a larger trade than normal hoping to recover losses from the losing trades on the feeling that his luck is “due for a change.” The trader can place the trade and then hold onto the trade even if it moves against him, taking on larger losses hoping that the situation will turn around. These are just two ways of falling for the Trader’s Fallacy and they will most likely result in the trader losing money.
There are two correct ways to respond, and both require that “iron willed discipline” that is so rare in traders. One correct response is to “trust the numbers” and merely place the trade on the signal as normal and if it turns against the trader, once again immediately quit the trade and take another small loss, or the trader can merely decided not to trade this pattern and watch the pattern long enough to ensure that with statistical certainty that the pattern has changed probability. These last two Forex trading strategies are the only moves that will over time fill the traders account with winnings.
Forex Trading Robots – A Way To Beat Trader’s Fallacy
The Forex market is chaotic and influenced by many factors that also affect the trader’s feelings and decisions. One of the easiest ways to avoid the temptation and aggravation of trying to integrate the thousands of variable factors in Forex trading is to adopt a mechanical Forex trading system. Forex trading software systems based on Forex trading signals and currency trading systems with carefully researched automated FX trading rules can take much of the frustration and guesswork out of Forex trading. These automatic Forex trading programs introduce the “discipline” necessary to actually achieve positive expectancy and avoid the pitfalls of Trader’s Ruin and the temptations of Trader’s Fallacy.
Automated Forex trading systems and mechanical trading software enforce trading discipline. This keeps losses small, and lets winning positions run with built in positive expectancy. It is Forex made easy. There are many excellent Online Forex Reviews of automated Forex trading systems that can do simulated Forex trading online, using Forex demo accounts, where the average trader can test them for up to 60 days without risk. The best of these programs also have 100% money back guarantees. Many will help the trader pick the best Forex broker compatible with their online Forex trading platform. Most offer full support setting up Forex demo accounts. Both beginning and experienced traders, can learn a tremendous amount just from the running the automated Forex trading software on the demo accounts. This experience will help you decide which is the best Forex system trading software for your goals. Let the experts develop winning systems while you just test their work for profitable results. Then relax and watch the Forex autotrading robots make money while you rake in the profits.
Ben Theranbak is an avid student of history, economics, statistics and the markets. He has an MBA, an MS in Aeronautical Engineering and is a graduate of the Naval War College. A former Naval Aviator, Ben is a skydiver and world traveler.