Does anyone really make money trading futures?

Does anyone really make money trading futures?

I am just wondering.

I know I don't. I have tried all the indicators and the chat room gurus, and none of them make money.

I have a suspicion that a lot of the chat rooms for emini trading are just for hobbyists and market enthusiasts and not for serious traders trying to make a business out of trading.

For any new traders out there please be very cautious of paying anyone to mentor you or signing up for training or a chat room. From what I have seen the only people making money in these deals is the mentor, the chat room owner or the author of the training manual.

I would love to hear from you if you are a successful trader making 20% off your account or better over the past year. I know only 5 to 10 percent of traders are supposed to be successful, but I am beginning to think that zero percent of traders are successful over the long haul. Certainly anyone can have a streak of luck and rack up a few good months where they dramatically increase their account size, but these people are normally big risk takers and eventually they blow out their accounts by taking the exact same risks that help double their accounts in the first place.

Thanks in advance for any response.
Agreed completely, I just wanted to weed out the "infomercial" stuff with hard statistics.

If there is to be success in trading - and that's a big "if" that I'm trying to find any cases to support it - then it would have to occur with many hours of dedication, a knack for shrewdness and discipline.

I only know of a couple people who had success. Jessie Livermore in the 1920s and Nicolas Darvas in the 60s. But you can't count Livermore because he kept going broke. Darvas I don't know. If he died with the $2,000,000 he made, then he was a shrewd man.

You can't count floor traders because they're not subject to the same slippage and commissions as the rest of us. Even so, many of them get wiped out.

I only know of one other person who has made a living for several years, Tom Bulkowski. His yearly returns are posted on his website, and they're pretty good, all things considered. Except this year, he is suffering a loss (which is not posted on his site).

It would seem there are practically no other cases of people trading for many years and consistently growing their account.

Which begs the ultimate question: is it even possible? According to the random walkers, it's not. Their mathematics seems to support that statement, and one can't easily discount good math.

So, if there are any serious traders in this forum, we'd like to hear from you.
I consider myself a serious trader...most are you really looking for? You can read some of my posted trades as they happened or I'm sure I've rambled on about my own personal trading journey somewhere...I'm just a day trader

Do you have specific questions?

Welcome to the forum

Originally posted by mmartinez

So, if there are any serious traders in this forum, we'd like to hear from you.

Hi Bruce, thanks for your reply.

Basically just wondering how long you've been doing it and whether you've made consistent money at it. Don't really need to specifics unless you're willing to share that.


Originally posted by BruceM

I consider myself a serious trader...most are you really looking for? You can read some of my posted trades as they happened or I'm sure I've rambled on about my own personal trading journey somewhere...I'm just a day trader

Do you have specific questions?

Welcome to the forum

Originally posted by mmartinez

So, if there are any serious traders in this forum, we'd like to hear from you.

I've been trading too long.....I'm going into my 9th year with the emini SP...before that I traded a small basket of commodities, 5 in total (Bonds, beans, Canadian dollar , corn, Swiss franc)with mixed results....For me I need to focus on one market and only day trade..I need that immediate feedback from the market....

I also had some bad losses when position trading..( worse than 6 grand in a week which was a lot then) I needed to find a better way.

I should also mention that it took me 2 years before I got a "grip" on day trading. The mental and financial toll was overwhelming to me at times. I still remember the day I lost 6 grand....can still see the chart pattern crystal clear that took away my money. It was 4 months later that I took another trade. I don't "welcome" losses but I realize it's just a cost of doing business.

If I could go back in time I would give more focus to the mental side of trading. Most are looking for that pattern, indicator or Guru to point the way but it's the patterns of our own mind that we need to master. Now I just try to discover new insights and work at the never ending battle of money management....that's still a challenge for me. Most of the methods that I use and things I look for are posted on this forum. Lots of great ideas here from many different posters. I guess it's really boils down to just finding ideas that work for you.

Ok, enough of the speech ..sorry for rambling on


Trading is no different to any other industry or profession that you might take up.

Say you became a tax accountant. You could be a good or bad tax accountant depending on how much time nad effort you put in to learning all the statutes, keeping abreast of changes in the law. Understanding and knowing the technologies and tools (software) that might help you with your job. Learning new (legal) ways to reduce your clients' tax bill.

The harder you work at it and given that you have average or above average intelligence and ability you will do well and be well compensated for your knowledge and ability.

As a trader you are facing the same hurdles. A new trader presumably knows knothing about the market. They have many years of learning ahead of them. It's all down to how much time and effort they have to put into it. They also have to keep up-to-date with all changes in the markets. Pits moving to electronic - an example of a big change that all traders need/needed to adapt to.
If I may put in my 2 cents

Not everyone is cut out to be a trader, many just do not have the psychological make up for it, and many, I would even say most do not have the financial make up for it.

Mostly, though new traders weed themselves out of the market, by being ill-prepared, ill-informed and ill-equipped.
Sort of like a surgeon showing up the the operating room, figuring he would just try a surgery or 2, before he decides if he really wants to be a surgeon.

For some reason traders do this all the time, I am not sure why, perhaps because access to trading accounts and margin is easy.
Many who 'give it a try' with zero knowledge last only a few months, blow their account and never return.
The statistics in the industry are very clear on this.

By the time a wannabe trader figures out it's more complicated than that, he is now operating from a financial and psychological percpective of failure.

I personally know many many traders who are succesful some who earn a fair living equivalent to other professionals, and some others who earn many times that in a single year.

Last years bonuses for traders at wall street firms set all time records.

Like any business, like any industry and any profession, there will always those who succeed and those who don't.

What separates the two? (a hint, it's the same for any profession)

Hard work, A positive attitude, Perseverance, Time and Discipline

Trading is Evolution not Revolution.
It is not a get rich quick lottery, it is not a game

Many go to Med school, Biz School, Law School and never graduate, they can't cut it. Does that mean that there are no succesful Doctors, Businessmen or lawyers in the world?

Not everyone is cut out for every profession, that's just how it is.

Traders do have 1 clear dissadvantage, they are allowed (as long as they have $2,000 to open an account) to try their hand at it, it seems to be the ONLY profession where the proper education comes after instead of prior to execution

Just my 2 cents worth

Good points Greg.

If the figures that 10% of all trades succeed is true then it might be the same for high school graduates that want to become Surgeons.

As Greg mentioned, many drop out. However, that "failure" figure becomes greater if you look at high school graduates that want to become surgeons but never got onto the course because they couldn't afford it, didn't have good enough grades etc.

So the "failure" rate for surgeons (or any other profession with a comparable remuneration) could be higher if you take those factors into account.
I also think that there are two categories here, too, that are vastly different, off-floor traders, and floor traders/traders for firms. Now, I realize that a floor trader, in the 'pits', is not the same thing as a trader for a firm, but what I am getting at here is the 'plugged in' to the system trader, who has some structure, framework, and training, and those of us sitting in our pajamas in our home office, trying to make it that way. Since I'd be in the latter category, I only care about that category.

It doesn't matter to me what a fund manager makes, how he got his training, what pit/floor traders do, what relative taught them the biz, how many of them fail or make it, what 'wall street traders' made in bonuses this year, or anything. I want to compare apples to apples, and so I want to know what is available to the totally by him or herself pajama trader, trading his or her own account, and making all the decisions about training and such for themselves.

I say this here because I see people in this categoty all the time, asking questions and getting answers referring to the other categories. I think what the pajama trader does is as different from what the rest of them do as table tennis (ping pong) is from tennis. They share the word tennis (or trader), but that's as far as it goes. And since there is very little means to collect data on this group, what they actually do is relatively unknown. Add into that that this is a target group for the charletans, and you have a lot of innaccurate, or downright deceptive stats.

As far as what Greg said about why do they do this without training, I think it is because they are goaded constantly by all the vendors, the dream merchants, with promises of easy riches (I mean, who would buy a lottery ticket, but a lot of desperate people do, just for the dream). These guys are slick. If I want to say open a pizza place, I can get pretty good stats on pizza places in my area and see what is what, and make an informed decision on a potential pizza business. Try that with an at home trading business. One has to make decisions without a lot of stats, and the stats one can get are highly open to debate on the accuracy and validity, in my opinion. Just some thoughts.
Very eloquent Jim - thanks.
I think it quite informative that this thread has yet to produce a viable, active and profitable screen trader within its community. I would have expected to hear from at least half a dozen JPJ types by now expounding on how they make money trading "every day". And with these types of course, I would also expect that none of them would be willing to offer up any confirming real time statements as to the P and L in their accounts ( if they even have an account ).
As for me, I have been trading now for over 3 years, 2 of which started with JPJ ( non-profit years by the way, sort of charitable I guess ) and continue to pay tuition to the school of trading. The more I research and read regarding the learning curve, the more the number 10 comes up. As in 10 years to reach maturity and consistancy as a profitable trader. This is very sobering considering the endless number of chat room rubes who post their "ghost" trades after the fact claiming to win 90% of their trades.
I have had my share of winners, make no mistake, for I am an aggressive intraday es trader with an overwhelming desire at times for action. And therein lies the rub. Is my personality a good fit for this business? A better ? to ask oneself before sending off that check to thebroker. Part of that answer lies within the information provided by taking the Myers-Briggs personality evaluation. Or any other such personality inventory offered. Find out who you are, because the market is a very expensive education if that is what you are after. Ed Seykota once told me, " We always get what we want ". I now understand that from a first hand perspective.
I consistently profit from futures/futures options, but it took me a long time to figure out the best way for me to do so.

While a set of trading rules is very important, I have found that it is just as, maybe even MORE important, to develop "trading callouses" from getting your butt handed to you repeatedly along the way.

Here's the thing: Any set of rules will only work until they don't. It is normal human psychology that there will come a time (again and again) where you deviate from the rules because A) you have had a string of losses, B) you have had a string of wins and now you have a loss and can't believe you're really supposed to "lose this one," C) you get greedy, D) you get scared for whatever reason, or E) any one of a thousand other things that will cause you to screw up.

I had ups and downs for many years until I thought I had it figured out and had a couple of years of really solid profits. I had my own private island picked out :) (not really, but I did have a condo in mind O/N an island). Then came the financial crisis of 2008 and I learned that while I had a generally good strategy, because times were good I had not developed an appropriate risk control system.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars later... (and that didn't take long at all!) I learned the hard way that my strategy was woefully inadequate when the unexpected happened. It took me a while to brush myself off, but eventually I did.

Since sometime in 2009 my cumulative returns are somewhere around 450%. Over the past 9 years I've found that proper risk control continues to be where I tend to fall short, so I've had some choppiness during this time. About two years ago I tightened things up some more to try to make for a smoother equity curve... this mean that, theoretically, my losing months should NOT be as large as in the past, but my winning months will also not be as large as they were in the past.

That's okay though -- even my cumulative success over the past 9-10 years, when averaged out by month, comes to < 2% a month. I suspect that 2% a month, long term, is about where I'll stay, but the ride should just be smoother along the way.

A return like that may or may not be enough for a particular person--it is for me--but keep in mind if you want to shoot for the stars there's a really good chance you're going to eventually crash land back on earth. It really does come down to being adequately capitalized and having a reasonable return be "enough" for you. By all means, trade even with a small account, because you need that experience to get to the point where you'll know what you're doing when you have the larger account. Just don't expect to turn a tiny account into a massive one along the way or you will probably be disappointed.