Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Notes - A Little Past Playing Good

Many who have followed this blog -- and all of the Jellies -- know that the best trading book I've ever come across isn't a trading book at all. It's a poker book entitled "The Tao of Poker" by Larry Phillips, and is mandatory reading for the Jellies and anyone who trains with me.

The $9.95 book, along with my having taken up poker two years ago, is one of the reasons my trading results exploded over the last few years. And I found myself having to reference it again last night following a modest draw and lackluster performance where I seemed to be one step ahead of myself from a pattern perspective as I jumped the gun a bit on trading the emerging 60-minute bull cup pattern put in place with the morning climb ... a pattern which is normally followed by an expected back-and-fill retracement toward the 15MA handle support, which then sets the stage for the next leg up toward the right rim of the cup.

And while I had the pattern nailed all day long -- and my reads have been exceptional over the last several weeks -- I fell into the trap that Rule #270 from the Tao "bible" describes as, "A little past playing good is playing badly."

Specifically, page 186 states that once a player has arrived at a certain level of expertise, "he finds that by simply thinking ahead one more step ... he can be back once again in the territory of bad play". And such was the case Tuesday afternoon where I didn't wait for both lesser timeframes (1 and 5) to confirm the expected bull cup extension move in the early afternoon, which finally occurred toward the end of the day and followed through during the overnight session (I'm typing this as of 6:00AM on Wednesday).

As Phillips correctly describes, the trap is subtle, and I believe likely afflicts seasoned pros more than amateurs as we make a living by thinking ahead and can typically sense the market bias with regularity. However, it can strike at any level.

As has often been said, the line separating brilliance from mediocrity is razor thin.

Yet while we occasionally all get cut by the razor, it's no excuse to stop shaving.