Today’s lesson is going to be a complete walk-through of exactly how I find, enter, and manage my Forex trades. I am going to use the GBPUSD pin bar setup from last Friday that I traded as an example to illustrate my analysis and thought process behind taking a trade. Today’s lesson will provide you with a “window” into my mind as I trade the market so that you can better understand how to successfully trade simple price action setups on the daily charts.
How I find an entry signal
The first step to finding an entry signal involves scanning your charts. You need to decide the best Forex pairs to trade and then scan the daily charts first; you should do this around the same time each day. The best time to analyze your daily charts is between the New York close and the European open. This is when the market action dies down from the previous day and the new day begins in Asia, which is typically not as active as the NY or euro sessions.
As I scan through the markets I am looking mainly for the following things: trends, levels, and price action. I will first determine if the market is trending or not, this is not an exact science, but for me I like to see patterns of higher highs and higher lows or low highs and low lows and I also look at the direction of the 8 and 21 daily EMAs.
I then mark any core levels that I see on the chart, this is important because simple horizontal levels and price action is a very powerful combination. Now, I don’t go crazy with drawing levels, I only draw in the “core” obvious support and resistance levels that I see on the chart, you will get better at this with enough screen time. For now, check out my example below of the GBPUSD daily chart:
Note the pin bar setup in the chart above. After I’ve determined whether the market is trending or consolidating and drawn in the core horizontal levels, I will look for obvious price action signals forming within the structure of the market. I like to trade with the trend as much as possible, and from points of “value” (support or resistance) within the trend. But, sometimes the market is not trending, and at these times we can look for price action setups near core support and resistance levels in order to trade a range-bound market or for counter-trend setups.
In the case of the GBPUSD pin bar setup above, we can see the market was just starting to trend lower which was made evident by the 8 / 21 daily EMAs crossing lower and price recently breaking down out of an obvious sideways trading range. The pin bar that formed was in-line with the recent downward momentum, clearly rejecting the old support / new resistance near 1.5900 and was well-defined and obvious. So, since this pin bar met all the parameters in my forex trading plan, I decided it was a good signal to trade.
How to place a stop loss
Determining proper stop placement is also not an exact science, but there are some general rules of thumb that you can operate by:
First, you want to try and place your stop at the most logical level possible. So, on the pin bar setup below, I put my stop just above the high of the tail of the pin bar, because this represented the point at which the signal would be invalid for me. Note, you always want to enter your stop loss at the same time you enter your entry order, never expose yourself to the market without a stop loss in place.
We can see in the chart below that I had a stop loss distance of 100 pips; stop at 1.5887 and entry at 1.5787, this is important to know when figuring out our target, which we will discuss next.
How to find a target
When I set my target I am looking to get a risk reward of at least 1 to 2 or more. In the case of the GBPUSD pin bar trade below, my risk was 100 pips, so I am looking for a 200 pip reward distance or more. Note, I am only using ‘pips’ here to measure distance, not risk, read about my Forex money management strategies here.
I check to make sure there are no ‘core’ support or resistance levels in the way of my desired target placement. If there is no major level in the way I will place the target, if there is a core level that comes before two times risk, I will then use discretion to decide whether or not to take the trade. Sometimes I will take a reward of 1.5 times risk if I feel the setup is sound but there is a core level coming in just before 2 times risk.
Exiting trades is probably the most discretionary part of trading and it’s something you get better at over time. The biggest problem most traders make in regards to exits is not exiting in hope of bigger profits. Don’t be a greedy trader; take your profit of 1:2 or greater if it’s there. If you have pre-defined that you will trail your stop in hopes of a larger profit based on your analysis of current market conditions, that’s OK too, just don’t get into a game of setting your target and then moving it further away once price gets near it, or always thinking the market is going to run in your favor forever.
Placing the trade in your trading platform
I can’t go into too much detail about actually placing the trade with your broker since we are not all using the same trading platform or broker. But, there are a few general comments about this that I would like to make:
Be sure that all your parameters are correct; your stop, entry and target. Double check everything before you hit the button to send the order. There is nothing worse than losing money because you entered your trade incorrectly or too quickly. It’s best to slow down and take a little extra time to make sure you have entered everything correctly.
Managing the trade
After you’ve entered the trade the “real” work begins. For most traders Forex trade management is where they mess everything all up. You don’t really need to do much after you’ve entered the trade besides maybe check on it once a day. After I entered the GBPUSD pin bar setup above I literally did not look at it for 24 hours. When I came back the next day I noticed I was up over 1 times risk, I didn’t do anything at that point but set and forget for another day.
I then came back the next day (Wednesday of this week) and decided to exit the trade for a profit of approximately 2.5 times risk. Some of you will remember that I mentioned in the GBPUSD thread in the members’ forum that I was going to let this trade run into the 1.5445 area. Whilst I had pre-defined my strategy as letting this trade run for a bit, I decided to exit earlier once I was up 2.5 times risk. There’s nothing at all wrong with using discretion to exit a profitable position, just make sure you aren’t acting out of greed by NOT exiting a profitable trade or at least locking in some profit if you are up over 2 times risk.
Handling the emotions of the trade
Perhaps the best way to make sure you do not trade emotionally is to not risk too much money on any one trade. I get many emails from traders telling me they are losing money and that they are up all night staring at their trades or that they can’t stop thinking about them. The only reason traders do these things is because they are risking too much money or over-trading. You need to risk an amount that you are TRULY ok with losing, because you COULD lose it on ANY trade. Yes, price action trading is a high – probability trading strategy when used with discretion, but you still never know for sure which trades will win and which will lose, so you MUST manage your risk effectively on every single trade you take.
The reason why traders risk too much and over-trade is because they have unreal expectations about the market. You need to seriously consider that fact that you aren’t going to get rich quick in Forex. You should aim for slow but consistent profits, and then over time you will build your trading account up. But, most traders don’t seem to have the patience for this, thus they end up getting caught in a perpetual cycle of emotional trading.
After the trade
After you have exited a trade for a profit or a loss you need to record exactly what happened in your Forex trading journal. It’s important to have a trading journal so that you can develop a track record and so you have a tangible piece of evidence reflecting your discipline or lack thereof.
As you can see, there is nothing complicated to the way that I trade the markets. Just simple logic combined with discipline and my discretionary trading skill. You can learn the same price action strategies that I use by taking my trading course and joining my members’ community. After you practice them for a while you will develop your own discretionary trading skill that will help you to only take obvious and confluent trade setups like the GBPUSD pin bar signal discussed in today’s lesson.