Trading Simulation, also known as mock trading and paper trading, is strongly advised prior to trading an account with actual money.
Take a few moments to read below, and maybe I can save you more than a few bucks by suggesting a couple links to put you on the right path to practice your trading skills before starting with real money.
You’ve been studying a million charts, reading books, magazines, and websites.
You’ve read countless posts by other traders on day trading forums, maybe even done some backtesting and you think you’ve got a strategy or a set of day trading strategies that you’re convinced will make you money.
It’s time to pick out a broker, open up an account and place those first trades, right?
Not so fast…have you even considered practicing on a trading simulator?
If you’ve never traded before, you don’t have a feel for what it’s like to see real time quotes flowing in to a day trading platform and having to make real time decisions right then and there, about whether to buy, sell, exit or move stops. You haven’t experienced the stress yet of seeing positions go against you….even though it’s only play money, if you’re serious about wanting to do well, there is still a slight element of stress. And of course, that feeling will be amplified with actual cash. The point is, even paper trading will present sample emotions of actual trading, that you just can’t get sitting in front of your computer, night after night staring at static charts.
Dynamically updated quotes, charts and indicators will take on a whole different feel and look that you are not used to. It will also begin to test your ability to trade through losing streaks and drawdowns that will most certainly come your way.
One of the most important things you can accomplish using a trading simulator for mock trading is gaining confidence in your strategies and techniques. It’s one thing to play out strategies in your mind and on a static chart after the markets are closed, but having the trading platform place the trade, register it on the screen and eventually close it out for a profit has the effect of building confidence. Do this with enough repetition, and it just might make the difference between success and failure when it comes time for the real show.
Another very important aspect of using day trading simulation, is the ability to become comfortable with the trading platform and charting software. I can’t over emphasize how well you must know the platform, before actual trading.
For instance, sometimes just touching a keyboard button by accident can cause the software to do something you’re not use to…drop a chart, change a trade screen, whatever. The better platforms and charting packages are more complicated, because they have loads of features. Knowing the platform really well, will go a along way in reducing stress in these kind of situations. If you decide to go with another platform for real trading after simulations, it’ll still be a benefit to you.
Most importantly, a day trading simulator will allow you to see if you should be trading with real money in the first place! Most people want to jump right into the game with real money. And some are glad they did. But, I think most can save themselves quite a bit of cash, by paper trading first.
Many of you unfortunately, will find that what you’re planning on doing doesn’t work too well — or it works, but you just can’t trade that way — or that day trading just isn’t for you. Sometimes that’s a good thing. What’s the point in trading a losing system or trading with a style that you’re not comfortable with? That the whole point of simulation. Practice and discovery.
This is only my opinion, but if I was going to use a day trading simulator for mock trading stocks or emini futures, there’s only two that I would consider using at this time. Both can be used for real trading should you decide to do so. Some stock trading simulators cannot.
DAY TRADING SIMULATORS
NinjaTrader’s simulator may be used for free.
To simulate real time trades, you must connect to a market data feed for a monthly fee.
Check their website for supported vendors. Their preferred market data vendor is Kinetick.
If you decide to stay with NinjaTrader for real trading, you will need to purchase their software and choose one of their supported brokers.
TradeStation also has a very good trading simulator, but you must open an account with them to use their platform.
You will be charged an account service fee and a monthly data fee.
If later, you decide to use TradeStation as your day trading brokerage, their account service fee will be free, if you meet minimum criteria.