Futures Trading Is Better When You Start In A Trading Simulator

By: John Gleason
The first line of the trading disclosure document reads as follows; "All trading involves high risk and you could lose a substantial amount of money." Of course there’s more to it than that, all of it pretty doom and gloomy. And rightfully so, if we are to believe the statisticians telling us that over 90% of day traders will lose all or most of their original investment within the first year. With that in mind then, you would be well advised to make sure you know what you are doing before you take the plunge.

One way to get an edge is to trade in a practice mode before risking your own money. Forget about paper trading. That can be a meaningless hypothetical exercise. At best it is very ambiguous and you really do not gain anything from it. Simulated trading on the other hand allows you to trade in the actual market. Even though your orders do not go to the exchange, you do go through all the trading motions where you will actually experience the trades in real time and get the feel of the market dynamics.

It is the next best thing to trading with real money.

Some brokerage houses provide a simulator platform with test accounts of $5,000 to $50,000, along with a 30 to 90 day trial period including live feed and live quotes. This is as close to the real thing as it gets. You have the opportunity to practice your trading strategy live, but with play money. You get to learn the trading platform and the actual interface you’ll be using. And while you are in this training mode, you can hone your trading concepts and you can make mistakes without being concerned about the consequences.

Simulated trading enables you to trade using real time quotes for select emini futures markets. You will also have access to real time streaming charts. You can practice placing your orders online and receiving confirmations in mere seconds. You will learn how to use your order management tools to view your working, filled or cancelled orders. You can become proficient with the trading matrix, learning how to place various order types, preset targets, stop losses and multiple orders. While it is possible to trade any futures index, commodity or stock in the simulator, the Dow Jones emini index is undoubtedly the most popular trading vehicle for the beginning day trader. The reasons for its widespread popularity among new traders as well as seasoned veterans are as follows;
  • Low initial trading deposit
  • Low initial and maintenance margins
  • Smooth and decisive price movement
  • Low tick values
  • Accessible to traders throughout the world
One of the best features and perhaps most overlooked advantage of using a simulator with a mock account is that it teaches you money management. If you treat your test account like it was your own money, and if you formulate and follow a trading plan (which I will cover in a separate article) you are more likely to get the maximum benefit from the simulator experience which will become vitally important when you start trading live.

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