1. Do you know the name and numbers of all your counterparts, especially if your equipment breaks down?
2. When does your market close, especially on holidays?
3. Do you have all the equipment you’ll need to make the trade, including pens, computers, notebooks, order slips, in the normal course and in the event of a breakdown?
4. Did you write down your trade and check it to see for example that you didn’t enter 400 contracts instead of the four that you meant to trade?
5. Why did you get into the trade?
6. Did you do a workout?
7. Was it statistically significant taking into account multiple comparisons and lookbacks?
8. Is there a prospective relation between statistical significance and predictivity?
9. Did you consider everchanging cycles?
10. And if you deigned to do a workout the way all turf handicappers do, did you take into account the within-day variability of prices, especially how this might affect your margin and being stopped out by your broker?
11. If a trade is based on information, was the information known to others before you?
12. Was there enough time for the market to adjust to that information?
13. What’s your entry and exit point?
14. Are you going to use market, limit or stop orders?
15. If you don’t get a fill how far will you go? And what is your quantity if you get filled on all your limits?
16. How much vig will you be paying if you use market or limit orders and how does that affect the workouts you did knowing that if you use stops you are likely to get the worst price of the day and all your workouts will be worthless because they didn’t take into account the changing price action when you use stops, to say nothing of everchanging cycles?
17. Are you sure your equipment is as good and as fast as the big firms that take out 100 million a day with equipment that takes into account the difference between being 100 yards away from an exchange and the time it takes the speed of light to reach you?
18. Are you going to exit at a time or based on a goal? And did you take into account what Jack Aubrey always did which is to have an escape route in case all else fails?
19. What important announcements are scheduled? and how does this affect when and what kind of order to use? For example, a limit before employment is likely to be down a percent or two in a second. Or else you won’t get filled and you’ll be chasing it all day.
20. Did you test how to change your size and types of orders based on announcements?
21. What’s the money management on this trade?
22. Are you in over your head?
23. Did you consider the changing margin requirements when the market gets testy or the rules committee with a position against you increases the margins against you?
24. How will a decline in price affect your margin and did you take into account what will happen when you get stopped out because of margin?
25. What will happen if you need some money for living expense or family matters during the trade? Or if you have to buy a house or lend money to a friend?
During and After the Trade
1. What’s your game plan if it goes against you and threatens your survival?
2. Will you be able to get out? Did you take that into account in your workout?
3. More typically, what will you do if it goes way against you and then meanders back to give you a breakeven? Or if it immediately goes for you or aginst you?
4. Would you be willing to take a ½% profit if you get it in the first 10 minutes?
5. Did you test whether taking small opportunistic profits turns a winning system into a bad one?
6. How will unexpected cardinal events affect you like the “regrettably,” or the pre-annnouncement of something you expected for the next open? And what happens if you’re trading an individual stock and the market goes up or down a few percent during the day, or what’s the impact of a related move in oil or interest rates?
7. Are you sure that you have to monitor the trade during the day? If you’re using stops, then you probably don’t have to but then your position size would have to be reduced so much that your chances of a reasonable profit taking account of vig are close to zero. If you’re using 10% of your capital on a trade, they you’ll have to monitor it for survival. But, but, but. Are you sure you won’t be called away by phone calls, or the others?
8. Are you at equilibrium in your personal life? You’re not as talented as Tiger Woods, and you probably won’t be able to handle distressed calls for money or leaks on the home front. Are you sure that if you’re losing you won’t get hit on the head with a 7-iron, or berated until you have to give up at the worst possible time?
9. After the trade did you learn anything from the trade?
10. Are you organized sufficiently to have a record of all your trades for your accounting and learning?
11. Should you modify your existing systems based on it?
12. How does recency and frequency and value affect your future?
13. Did you fit your after activities to your mojo?
14. If you made a good profit, did you take some capital out of the fray for a rainy day?
15. Have you learned to say “fair” whenevever anyone asks you how you’re doing and are you sure that you don’t spend a fortune after a good trade, and dissipate your profits with non-economic activities?
16. Is there a better use for your time than monitoring the ticks or the market every minute of the day if you do, and if you don’t, do those who do so and have much faster and better equipment than you have an insurmountable advantage against you?